Skip to Main Content

Nichols Kaster Attorneys Steven Andrew Smith and Laura Farley Partner with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Disability Law Center

Nichols Kaster attorneys Steven Andrew Smith and Laura Farley are working with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Disability Law Center and Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie P.A. in a class action lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s Department of Human Services’ (DHS) statewide practice of over reliance on corporate foster care settings as housing for those with disabilities. Specifically, Plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief requiring DHS to ensure every Disability Waiver recipient living in corporate foster care settings receive notice about eligibility for and access to individualized housing services; to specifically provide access and take prompt steps to make individualized housing services available to Plaintiffs in a reasonable amount of time; and to take such steps as necessary to enable Plaintiffs to receive residential services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.

Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint on August 3, 2016. On September 27, 2019, U.S. Senior District Court Judge Donovan Frank found that DHS’s current notice policy used to inform people who are being denied housing services violates Due Process rights under the 14th Amendment. Judge Frank also ruled against DHS on its motion for Summary Judgment, finding that Plaintiffs' ADA claim is allowed to proceed to trial.

In response to the Court’s Order, Laura Farley noted: "We are excited to be supporting and working with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and Anthony Ostlund on this important case, and are very pleased with the Court’s recent Order. This case has the potential to greatly impact the lives of Minnesotans living in group homes, especially those who want to live more independently in their community. We are confident in the direction of this case and look forward to working with this team to prepare for trial and protect our clients’ rights."

A copy of the Order can be found here.