This is our third case alleging that the State of Illinois violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws by needlessly forcing people with disabilities to live in institutions when they could live in their own homes or other small, community-based settings.

In December, 2011, the court approved a consent decree requiring that 1,100 people then living in nursing homes be offered the opportunity to receive the services they need in community-based settings. After those people were given the chance to move into the community over a period of 30 months (later extended due to the state’s failure to move sufficient numbers and the move of implementation by the state to the Department of Aging), the parties, an expert consultant,  and the court-appointed monitor  prepared a plan to move as many additional people out of the nursing homes as possible since it was determined that the state was spending far less to serve people in the community than in institutions. (Cost Neutral Plan “CNP”). In order to assist the state in developing the community capacity required to serve those wishing to leave nursing homes, the CNP required the court monitor to hire consultants to address issues of community capacity, and to make specific recommendations to the defendants for building such capacity.

Discussions of the State’s plans to implement these recommendations, and further discussions of the number of class members required to be moved to the community were held among plaintiffs’ counsel, the Monitor and Defendants. These resulted in an amended CNP ordered by the court in 2017. Defendants failed to comply with the requirements of the amended CNP and we began proceedings to move for enforcement under the consent decree.

After the election in November 2018, the new state administration voiced their strong support for the accomplishment of the goals of the Consent Decree and community integration. Over the first half of 2019, we, the Monitor, and the state have negotiated and agreed upon a new Implementation Plan designed to bring the state into compliance with the Consent Decree and cost Neutral Plans.

We will continue to monitor the progress made and compliance with this new plan with monthly meetings of the parties and Monitor, and regular status reports to the court.


Heidi Dalenberg (ACLU of Illinois), Stephen Libowsky (Dentons), Stephen F. Gold, Barry Taylor (Equip for Equality)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Equip for Equality

Date filed

August 22, 2007


Northern District of Illinois


Joan H. Lefkow


Active (under consent decree)

Case number