Evans v. Bowser

Long standing class action that challenged the unconstitutional conditions of confinement and lack of community supports for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the District of Columbia.  Filed in February of 1976, the case ended January 10, 2017, when the Court held the District finally was in substantial compliance with multiple court orders.  Originally, there were about 2000 people at the District’s lone institution, Forest Haven; only 479 class members were still alive when the judge ended 40 years of court oversight.

The institution closed in 1990, but the District struggled to comply with court orders and provide adequate services to ensure the health, safety and welfare of class members.  In an attempt to provide a blueprint for systemic reforms, two Special Masters drafted a Plan for Compliance that was approved by the Court in 2001.  Nonetheless, in 2007, CPR, its co-counsel, University Legal Services, and the US Department of Justice, the plaintiff-intervenor, prevailed on yet another motion for noncompliance; three years later, in 2010, they also prevailed on the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case.  This led to a revised compliance plan that set forth multiple criteria governing class members’ health and welfare as well as systemic reforms.  The Court also appointed an Independent Compliance Administrator to guide the defendants’ compliance efforts.  In December of 2016, the Court found the District in substantial compliance with the last remaining criteria pertaining to timely health and medical services as well as day and vocational services in the least restrictive, most integrated settings.  Significantly, the plaintiffs secured a commitment from the District to maintain the progress achieved thus far, and to continue to improve services for all individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Washington, D.C.