State Of Florida Violates Americans With Disabilities Act, Court Rules

[Screenshot/YouTube/Aimee Johnson]

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A U.S. District Court ruled Tuesday the state of Florida is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically concerning the “complex medical needs” of certain children.

After a two week bench trial in May, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida found the Sunshine State has violated the rights of children with “complex medical needs” by “unnecessarily institutionalizing” them in nursing facilities, a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office stated.

Additionally, the court found parents and guardians of institutionalized children wanted their children to remain at home but were given no other meaningful options other than having their children placed in institutionalized care, per the press release.

“The court’s ruling sends a clear message that children with complex medical needs deserve to grow up with the love and support of their families and should not be confined to nursing facilities where they are stripped apart from their communities,” Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said.

“The court heard from many families who struggled desperately to keep their children at home despite a lack of services, and others who had no choice but to place their children in nursing homes because they could not get the help they needed,” the press release stated.

One parent, Heather Patten, told the court she had to place her son in a nursing home when he was merely a toddler.

“I was scared, and I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I felt like there was no choice,” Pattern said.

Another parent, Martin Carrizales, echoed Patten’s testimony. Carrizales told the court when it came to helping his disabled teenage stepson, his options were limited.

“The help that they would give is that they would put him in a home but I would not be able to take care of him, and that is not what I wanted for him,” Carrizales said, according to the release.

The court’s decision comes after nearly 10 years of litigation. The press release stated the ruling “marks a major turning point in the treatment of children with disabilities in Florida and vindicates their right to community integration.”

“This important ruling will help Florida families of disabled children keep and care for their children at home by requiring increased access to medical support and services,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe stated.

“We look forward to seeing the systematic changes in Florida needed to prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of children with complex medical needs.” (RELATED: Jewish Parents Sue California For Allegedly Banning Them From Using Federal Funds For Disabled Children)

Under the ADA and the Supreme Court’s decision 24-years-ago in Olmstead v. L.C., Florida is “required to serve children with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, as long as the children or their guardians do not oppose community integration,” the release noted.