FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laura J. Miller, Managing Attorney
(312) 341-0022, TTY (800) 610-2779
APPELLATE COURT OVERTURNS THE STATE OF ILLINOIS' DENIAL OF COMMUNITY DISABILITY SERVICES
Equip for Equality Successfully Advocates For Man With Cerebral Palsy In Case That Will Have Broad Impact
CHICAGO (March 8, 2004) - In an important decision that will have systemic impact, a three judge state appellate court panel has overturned the State of Illinois' denial of community disability services for a man with cerebral palsy. Bradley Tinder, a 30-year-old man, has had cerebral palsy since birth. Mr. Tinder resided in a nursing home, but he wanted to move into a Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA), a program that promotes independence for people with developmental disabilities.
The Illinois Department of Human Services rejected Mr. Tinder's application for CILA claiming he was not eligible for the program because he was not developmentally disabled. Represented by Equip for Equality, Mr. Tinder appealed the decision to the Illinois Department of Public Aid, which upheld the denial. After a trial court affirmed the administrative decision, Equip for Equality filed an appeal with the Third District Appellate Court.
On appeal, the State argued that in order to be eligible for CILA services, Mr. Tinder had to have a mental impairment. The Appellate Court rejected the State's position and found in favor of Mr. Tinder on the basis that state law explicitly included cerebral palsy in the definition of developmental disability, even if no mental impairment is present.
"We are pleased that after nearly five years our client will finally be able to move from a nursing home into the community," says Janet Cartwright, Senior Attorney for Equip for Equality and the attorney representing Mr. Tinder. "The Appellate Court correctly recognized that the State's denial of disability community services was unjustified under the statutory language."
"The Appellate Court's decision is significant because it will not only benefit Mr. Tinder, but also other people with developmental disabilities who do not have a mental impairment," says Laura J. Miller, Equip for Equality's Managing Attorney. "The Illinois Department of Human Services has been routinely denying community living to people who are entitled to those opportunities, and this ruling sends a clear message that the State's position is contrary to the law. We call upon the State to cease these illegal practices immediately."
Equip for Equality is a private, not-for-profit entity designated by the Governor to administer the federal Protection and Advocacy System for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. It is the only comprehensive statewide advocacy organization providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigation.
Reference Bradley Tinder v. Illinois Department of Public Aid, No. 01-MR-58
For more information contact Laura J. Miller at 312/341-0022 or TTY 800/610-2779 or Janet Cartwright at (309) 386-6868.