Plaintiffs/Appellants in Sciarrillo v. Christie have appealed the District Court's dismissal of their case, with VOR filing an Amicus brief in support of Plaintiffs/Appellants.
Appellants are 35 residents, represented by their families/legal guardians, who reside in two New Jersey Developmental Centers which are slated to close. Appellants argue that the State is violating the rights of residents, including their right, per ADA/Olmstead and other laws, to have individualized assessments as to needs and required services and an evaluation as to least restrictive environment appropriate to individual needs, and a right to choose such setting that best meets those needs. Failure to consider the professional judgment of state treating professionals and choice is discrimination based on disability, appellants allege. Appellants argue that the District Court erred in dismissing this action, noting that the District Court in reaching its decision misunderstood certain arguments. Appellants are not claiming the right to choose a particular setting, or even endeavoring in this action to keep facilities open. Instead, this case is about proper discharge planning based on individualized assessments, consideration of choice, and least restrictive environment, as required by law, and New Jersey’s wanton disregard of resident rights and well-being.
VOR has filed an Amicus brief in support of Appellants, arguing that the Olmstead decision “requires a state agency to make individualized assessments of the needs of disabled individuals as to the least restrictive environment that can meet their needs, which may be a developmental center, before individuals are transferred to community-based care.” VOR’s brief was joined by six Amici: Woodbridge Developmental Center Parents Association; Save New Jersey Developmental Centers, Inc. (d/b/a Save Residents' Homes at Developmental Centers); Association for Hunterdon Developmental Center; Green Brook Regional Center Family and Friends Association; Vito Coletti, Family Advocacy Representative of Vineland Developmental Center; and North Jersey Developmental Center Parents' Council (d/b/a North Jersey Developmental Center Families & Friends).