D.C. denied end to lawsuits
The District was dealt another setback Wednesday in its effort to end the class action lawsuits covering three of the city's social services agencies.
In an 84-page decision issued Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle rejected the city's argument that under a recent Supreme Court decision, the city was not obligated to comply with the consent decree agreed to in the long-running case.
Huvelle had announced her decision at a hearing in December, but she had not laid out her reasoning until the issuance of her opinion Wednesday. She has scheduled a hearing for this afternoon and required Attorney General Peter Nickles to be present.
Known as Evans v. Fenty, the suit was filed in 1976 over conditions at Forest Haven, which was the city's institution for people with severe developmental disabilities. Forest Haven was closed almost two decades ago, but the city failed to provide adequate services to the many of the former Forest Haven residents, and the litigation has lived on.
Nickles and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty have made ending the suit and others involving the child welfare and mental health agencies a key administration priority.
On Monday, the judge in the child welfare case, Thomas F. Hogan, issued his long-awaited on the District's effort to the end that case, known as LaShawn v. Fenty. Hogan said that the city had not met the standards set out last year by the Supreme Court in the institutional reform case Horne v. Flores.
Hogan also found Fenty in civil contempt for failing to involve the plaintiffs in the selection of a new child welfare director.
Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post editors
April 7, 2010; 8:26 AM ET
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