Judge Issues Partial Dismissal in Clover Bottom Lawsuit

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 | 08:55am

NASHVILLE – A federal judge issued an order vacating injunctive relief and partially dismissing the long-standing Clover Bottom lawsuit following completion of all but one final section of an Exit Plan.

The Exit Plan was entered by the district court in the middle district of Tennessee at the parties’ request on January 29, 2015, and required the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) and the Bureau of TennCare to complete nine sections of obligations.  It provided for a two-phase dismissal of the lawsuit based on the completion of those sections.

The first phase required the state to complete eight sections of responsibilities, the completion of which has led to the partial dismissal.  To comply with those requirements, DIDD and TennCare completed many requirements, including the following:

  • Developed training for law enforcement officers who may come into contact with persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  Since May, DIDD has trained officers from more than 100 different law enforcement agencies, the TBI and TEMA first responders
  • Developed training for licensed physicians, caregivers and families to improve outcomes of medical care for people with disabilities.  The training, developed in partnership with TennCare and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) takes a close look at challenging behavior and mental health concerns in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well as the over-prescription of powerful, mind-altering medications.  As of December, 340 health care professionals have taken the training
  • Revised support plan templates for persons receiving DIDD services and trained 100 percent of contracted support coordinators
  • Received federal approval to implement a new behavioral health crisis prevention, intervention and stabilization services model for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have serious psychiatric or behavioral health needs
  • Established behavior respite services in East and Middle Tennessee

“DIDD and our partners at TennCare have worked very hard all year on the provisions in the Exit Plan, many times going above and beyond what was required of us,” DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne said.  “For us, this was not only about ending a costly lawsuit, it was about improving the lives of all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

The second phase of the lawsuit requires the closure of Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville by June 30, 2016.  The Exit Plan, however, allows for two six-month extensions to the closure date if necessary for selected providers to finalize the construction of new community homes and facilitate the safe transition of residents into those homes.  Upon closure, the lawsuit will be fully and finally dismissed.

The lawsuit was brought by People First of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Justice in 1995 over conditions at Clover Bottom Developmental Center, Greene Valley Developmental Center and Nat T. Winston Developmental Center.  Nat T. Winston Developmental Center shut its doors in 1998.  Clover Bottom Developmental Center closed in November 2015.