The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently ruled that guardians of residents at the Murray Developmental Center cannot block the state of Illinois from closing the facility.
The Murray Developmental Center in Centralia, Illinois is a community-based facility that provides services to people with disabilities.
The state announced in 2012 its intention to close the center. Subsequently, guardians of the center's residents filed a lawuit seeking to stop the closure, claiming to do so was an act of discrimination against residents under the ADA and federal Medicaid law.
The claims were rejected after a hearing. The guardians then appealed that judgment in the Seventh Circuit, which upheld the ruling of the lower court.
In its ruling, the court pointed out that only two other states, New Jersey and Texas, have a higher number of people with developmental disabilities living in state-operated institutions, and 13 states have no state-operated developmental institutions at all. Further, the court said those who brought the suit did not prove any irreparable harm would be caused by the center's closure.
Supporting the state's right to close the facility was Equip for Equality, Inc., an independent not-for-profit organization advocating for children and adults in Illinois with disabilities.
"Equip for Equality has long-strived to ensure that people with disabilities have the opportunity to lead fuller, more independent lives in the community," Zena Naiditch, president and CEO of Equip for Equality, said.
Naiditch said the ruling affirms the importance of increasing community-based options for people with developmental and other disabilities.
"Illinois must continue to bridge the gap that exists between it and most other states in fulfilling the federal community integration mandate," she said.
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