In 2003, the Mental Health Project (MHP) and co-counsel filed suit to challenge the illegal warehousing of over 4,000 people with mental illness in so-called “Adult Homes” in New York City. In a 2009 landmark decision, a U.S. District Court Judge found that the state has “denied thousands of individuals with mental illness in New York City the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.” In 2012, on a technical ground, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated that ruling. The Second Circuit held that plaintiff Disability Advocates, Inc. (DAI), did not have “standing” to bring the lawsuit.
The DAI case was refiled as O’Toole vs. Cuomo. In 2013, a settlement was reached that requires the state to provide supported housing units for adults with mental illnesses and the opportunity for adults living in institutions to live independently with access to the services they need. Some of these services include psychiatric rehabilitation services, assertive community treatment, and crisis services. This settlement ensures that mentally ill adults’ right to live in the “most integrated setting” appropriate for their needs is upheld.
Pro Bono Co-counsel: Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP.
Co-counsel: Disability Advocates, Inc., the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, MFY Legal Services, Inc.