Marsters, et al v. Healey, et al

June 18, 2024: Massachusetts Court Approves Landmark Cross-Disability Settlement Agreement on Behalf of Individuals Stuck in Nursing Facilities 

Following a fairness hearing on June 17, 2024, at the United States District Court in Boston, Judge Nathaniel Gorton entered a final order on June 18, 2024 approving a landmark cross-disability Settlement Agreement in Marsters v. Healey.  The Marsters case is a disability rights class action lawsuit brought against the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on behalf of tens of thousands of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily institutionalized in nursing facilities. The Agreement, preliminarily approved on April 22, 2024, will allow thousands of people to return to the community and live in new homes with appropriate services. Read the full press release.

June 7, 2024: Bringing People Home – A webinar for attorneys, paralegals, and legal advocates explaining the Marsters v. Healey Settlement Agreement

May 29, 2024: Bringing People Home – A webinar for attorneys, paralegals, and legal advocates explaining the Marsters v. Healey Settlement Agreement

April 23, 2024: Federal Court Grants Preliminary Approval to CPR’s Landmark Settlement Agreement

On April 23, 2024, federal Judge Nathaniel Gorton preliminarily approved the Settlement Agreement in Marsters v. Healey.  The court also provisionally certified a class of people with disabilities in nursing facilities, and approved a notice that will sent to all people in nursing facilities in Massachusetts.  Everyone will have until May 31, 2024 to file any objections to the Agreement with the federal court.  Judge Gorton has scheduled a hearing at 3:00 pm on June 17, 2024 to determine if the Agreement should be fully approved.  Anyone can contact CPR if they have questions about the Agreement.

The Settlement Agreement requires the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to provide in-reach, information and opportunities to learn about community living, and transition assistance to all people with disabilities in nursing facilities; to provide case management, specialized services, and rehabilitative services while they remain in these facilities; and to provide residential services to allow at least 2,400 people to transition to integrated settings in the community. 

The landmark settlement was highlighted on the front page of the Boston Globe, 4/21/24.

April 16, 2024: CPR, Massachusetts Settle Landmark Cross-Disability Lawsuit that Will Provide Community Homes for Thousands Stuck in Nursing Facilities

Under a landmark Settlement Agreement signed today by the Center for Public Representation, legal partners, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, thousands of people with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in nursing facilities will be able to return to the community and live in new homes with appropriate services.

The Settlement Agreement was reached after months of mediation. It includes a comprehensive set of actions that the Commonwealth will undertake over an eight-year period to provide informed choice, case management services, specialized services, and residential services and supports necessary to transition no fewer than 2,400 class members from nursing facilities to the community.

Plaintiff Lorraine Simpson, who is moving to a new community home after years stuck in a nursing facility, looks forward to regaining her independence.  “After leaving Jamaica 20 years ago, I lived independently in my own apartment, was connected to my children, and enjoyed cooking and caring for others. But for the past two years, I have been confined to a nursing facility where I can’t do anything for myself,” said Ms. Simpson. “I can’t be with my family and am totally dependent on others to decide what I must do every day. But soon, because of the Agreement, I will have a new home in the community near my family and friends. I can’t wait to take care of my own home, spend time with my family, and cook for them again.” 

Another named plaintiff, Richard Caouette, has been confined to a nursing home for nearly four years. “For decades I lived an independent life. I held a job and am an honorably discharged U.S. Army veteran. For me, living in a nursing home is like living under martial law. I am determined to return to the community and pray the Agreement will get me a new home so I can leave here.”

CPR lead counsel Steven Schwartz said the Agreement will provide a new path for older adults and individuals with disabilities. “For thousands of people with disabilities segregated in nursing facilities, the Agreement will enable them to be near their families and friends in a new home, with community-based services. This is what the law requires and what everyone deserves.”

Co-counsel in the lawsuit are Justice in Aging, Greater Boston Legal Services, and Foley Hoag, LLP.

Read a summary of the Settlement Agreement, the full Agreement, and the Press Release.

 

HISTORY:

Class action lawsuit alleging Massachusetts’ officials have unnecessarily institutionalized individuals with various disabilities in nursing facilities and have failed to provide community residential services and supports necessary to allow them to live in integrated settings in the community.  The Commonwealth’s failure violates the American with Disabilities (ADA) and the Medicaid Acts and disproportionately impacts people of color.  The complaint, filed October 11, 2022, seeks to compel the Commonwealth to expand its existing residential programs so that people with disabilities in nursing facilities can make informed choices and have meaningful options to live successfully in the community. 

The complaint also notes the tragic impact of COVID-19 on nursing facilities, resulting in the death of thousands of people with disabilities.  Since the pandemic, and unnecessary institutionalization in nursing facilities in general, have a disparate impact on communities of color, the complaint seeks culturally-competent services that are accessible to, and designed to serve, these communities.

CPR is litigating this case with Greater Boston Legal Services, Justice in Aging, and Foley Hoag LLP.