SPRINGFIELD — —
A federal judge has struck down major components of the state's effort to dismiss a case challenging its decision to close a southern Illinois center for the developmentally disabled.
U.S. District Judge Marvin Aspen entered a ruling Tuesday evening upholding core tenets of a lawsuit filed by the Murray Parents' Association and developmentally disabled groups who are trying to block the closure of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia later this year. The decision allows the case to move forward, but removes the Department of Human Services and Gov. Pat Quinn among the list of named defendants.
The facility's scheduled closure is part of Quinn's plan to save the state money and have more community-based care for people with disabilities.
Aspen said the state hasn't proven that moving residents to community-based care is less costly than another alternative. He also questioned the state's argument that a Supreme Court ruling requires the state to provide community-based care for disabled residents in certain circumstances.
Aspen cited the arguments by the Parents' Association describing "far more draconian conduct" by the state — putting Murray residents in group placements regardless of their needs and attempts by their guardians to secure spots at other state operated centers for the developmentally disabled.
Judith Sherwin, a lawyer that represents the Parents' Association, said Aspen's ruling boosts her group's case. "We now know exactly what he's looking for in terms of sustaining our causes of action by showing him the facts," Sherwin said.
Maura Possley, a spokeswoman at the Attorney General's office, which is representing the state, said the court's order "narrows the issues in the case."
Hearings on the case will begin Jan. 6 in Chicago.