In Olmstead, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Human Resources, et al vs. L.C., a female with mental retardation and schizophrenia, was confined to Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta and held for an extended period. She sued the state of Georgia for discrimination based on her disability as a mental health patient under the ADA, the American Disabilities Act. The ADA states, “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, a public entity’s services, programs or activities.”
Doctors at the facility had determined that the female patient could be treated in an outpatient facility, but the state claimed that lack of financial resources led to her continued confinement. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the patient won in court, including the state’s appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The original case was brought in 1983, and the final decision was rendered in 1999 by the Supreme Court, but Georgia did not act on the decision sufficiently to satisfy the courts.
In 2009, the Civil Rights Division of the ADA launched an aggressive effort to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision, In 2010, the Department of Justice announced a settlement with the state to reform the system. The agreement forces Georgia to reallocate its resources for the treatment of mental-health patients to include community-based programs.