Steward v. Abbott, Civil No. 5:10-cv-1025-OLG

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
Citation189 F.Supp.3d 620
Docket NumberCivil No. 5:10-cv-1025-OLG
Parties Eric Steward, by his next friend and Mother, Lillian Minor, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas, et al., Defendants. The United States of America, Plaintiff Intervenor, v. The State of Texas, Defendant.
Decision Date17 May 2016

189 F.Supp.3d 620

Eric Steward, by his next friend and Mother, Lillian Minor, et al., Plaintiffs,
Greg Abbott, Governor of the State of Texas, et al., Defendants.

The United States of America, Plaintiff Intervenor,
The State of Texas, Defendant.

Civil No. 5:10-cv-1025-OLG

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division.

Signed May 17, 2016

189 F.Supp.3d 624

Casey A. Burton, Robert Velevis, Yvette Ostolaza, Sidley Austin LLP, Dallas, TX, Deborah A. Dorfman, Elizabeth F. Toner, Sandra J. Staub, Steven J. Schwartz, Northampton, MA, Sean A. Jackson, Disability Rights Texas, Houston, TX, Garth A. Corbett, Disability Rights Texas, Austin, TX, for Plaintiffs.

Alexandra L. Shandell, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, Cynthia Coe, Haley Christine Van Erem, Jessica Elyse Polansky, Regan Rush, Robert A. Koch, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, John F. Paniszczyn, U.S. Attorney's Office, San Antonio, TX, for Plaintiff-Intervenor.

Andrew S. Oldham, Andrew Bowman Stephens, Angela V. Colmenero, John Earl Duke, Marc Edward Rietvelt, Michael James Patterson, Nancy K. Juren, Natalee B. Marion, Thomas A. Albright, Scott A. Keller, Office of the Attorney General, Austin, TX, for Defendants.



Before the Court are Defendants' motions (docket nos. 242, 244) seeking the dismissal of Plaintiffs' and Intervener's claims against them. The Court has reviewed these motions, together with the arguments raised by the parties in their memoranda, responses, and replies (docket nos. 255, 260, 264, 274, 278), the record in this case, and the applicable law, and concludes, for the reasons set forth below, that Defendants' motions to dismiss should be DENIED.


Plaintiffs are twelve individuals who allege that they suffer from intellectual or developmental disabilities and related conditions (IDD), and two organizations, The Arc of Texas, Inc., and the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, Inc. Defendants are the State of Texas, and, in their official capacities, Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Health and Human Services Commission

189 F.Supp.3d 625

Executive Commissioner Kyle Janek, and Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Commissioner Jon Weizenbaum. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have administered the Medicaid program such that, in order to continue receiving Medicaid-funded services that they depend upon, Plaintiffs have been unnecessarily institutionalized and segregated in nursing facilities and excluded from community-based supports, including the Home and Community-based Services (HCS) waiver program. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' administration of the Medicaid program violates Title II of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Medicaid Act, and the Nursing Home Reform Amendments Act (NHRA). Plaintiffs are joined by Plaintiff-Intervenor the United States.

Defendants have moved to dismiss the United States (docket no. 242), arguing that the United States lacks standing to assert claims under Title II of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. Defendants have also moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims, arguing that all Plaintiffs lack standing as to all of their claims, and that, as to every count of the complaint, all Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.


A. Texas's Motion to Dismiss the Claims of the United States

In its motion to dismiss the claims in intervention of the United States, Texas argues that, because Congress has not authorized the Attorney General to sue under Title II of the ADA, the enforcement provision of the Rehabilitation Act, or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the United States lacks standing to sue and should be dismissed from the case. Docket no. 242 at 1-2.

To the extent that Texas's argument for dismissal goes to Article III standing, it fails because the United States, as an intervenor who seeks no relief beyond that sought by the Plaintiffs in this case, need not possess Article III standing to proceed. It is the law of this circuit that "Article III does not require intervenors to independently possess standing where the intervention is into a subsisting and continuing Article III case or controversy and the ultimate relief sought by the intervenors is also being sought by at least one subsisting party with standing to do so." Ruiz v. Estelle, 161 F.3d 814, 829–30 (5th Cir.1998) ; Newby v. Enron Corp., 443 F.3d 416, 422 (5th Cir.2006) ; League of United Latin Am. Citizens, Dist. 19 v. City of Boerne, 659 F.3d 421, 428 (5th Cir.2011).

The United States' complaint in intervention seeks injunctive relief and declaratory relief that is substantially the same ultimate relief sought by the original Plaintiffs in this case. Cf. docket nos. 1 at 54-56, 53-1 at 18, 137 at 17, 173 at 84-86; see also Ruiz, 161 F.3d at 833 (where the intervening plaintiffs "seek the same ultimate relief" as the original plaintiffs, but advance a different legal theory, the intervening plaintiffs' complaint "creates no jurisdictional obstacle for the court"); see also McConnell v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 540 U.S. 93, 233, 124 S.Ct. 619, 157 L.Ed.2d 491 (2003) ("The National Right to Life plaintiffs argue that the District Court's grant of intervention to the intervenor-defendants ... must be reversed because the intervenor-defendants lack Article III standing. It is clear, however, that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has standing, and therefore we need not address the standing of the intervenor-defendants, whose position here is identical to the FEC's."), overruled on other grounds by Citizens United v. Fed. Election Comm'n, 558 U.S. 310, 130 S.Ct. 876, 175 L.Ed.2d 753 (2010).

189 F.Supp.3d 626

The State of Texas argues that "the question is not whether the United States permissibly piggybacked on Plaintiffs' standing when it intervened, but rather, having intervened, where does the Attorney General's right to assert its claims come from?" Docket no. 278 at 3. Insofar as this argument pertains to Article III standing, it is misguided. The Court is not tasked with screening individual parties' rights to assert their claims, but with safeguarding separation of powers by "ensur[ing] that courts will decide only actual disputes and not abstract policy questions more properly decided by coordinate branches of government." Ruiz, 161 F.3d at 829, 832. Provided that such a case or controversy exists, it is immaterial to the court's jurisdiction whether an intervening party, proceeding alone, could have satisfied the requirements of Article III. Id. at 823–33 (rejecting argument that intervenor-plaintiffs required standing to invoke the court's jurisdiction to decide the merits of their claims, reasoning that "[t]he court's jurisdiction in this case has already been invoked by the original parties").

To the extent that Texas's argument for dismissing the claims of the United States goes to doctrines of "prudential" or statutory standing, it fails for similar reasons. A government agency's capacity to intervene—and to raise claims that are within the scope of the original plaintiff's complaint—is not limited to the agency's capacity to institute an independent action on its own behalf. In re Estelle, 516 F.2d 480, 485 (5th Cir.1975) ("the intervenor-by-permission does not even have to be a person who would have been a proper party at the beginning of the suit[.]") (separate opinion of Turtle, J.); Halderman v. Pennhurst State Sch . & Hosp., 612 F.2d 84, 92 (3d Cir.1979) ( "we need not decide whether absent the [original] action the United States could independently have sued. ... Congress has made the decision that someone could seek the injunctive relief in question. Intervention presented no danger that the federal executive would be initiating a lawsuit that Congress somehow never intended.") rev'd on other grounds, 451 U.S. 1, 101 S.Ct. 1531, 67 L.Ed.2d 694 (1981).

"[T]he whole thrust of the amendment [adding Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(b)(2) ] is in the direction of allowing intervention liberally to governmental agencies and officers seeking to speak for the public interest." 7C Charles Alan Wright et al., Fed. Prac. & Proc. Civ. § 1912 (3d ed. 1998) (discussing Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. U.S. Realty & Imp. Co., 310 U.S. 434, 460, 60 S.Ct. 1044, 84 L.Ed. 1293 (1940) ); Fed. R. Civ. P. 24 advisory committee's note to 1946 amendment (same) (discussing Realty ). As noted above, this is not a case in which the relief sought by the United States exceeds the scope of relief sought by the original Plaintiffs. This is, however, a case in which the original Plaintiffs' claims, and the defenses asserted by the State of Texas and the other Defendants, arise from a statutory and regulatory regime that the Attorney General has been charged by Congress with administering.1 The Court has already granted the United States' motion to intervene, and "its pleadings [are] congruent to the pleadings of the Plaintiff." Disability Advocates, Inc. v. Paterson, No. 03–CV–3209 (NGG), 2009 WL 4506301, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 23, 2009). The interests of

189 F.Supp.3d 627

the United States in the enforcement of Title II and the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
12 cases
  • Ball v. Kasich, Case No. 2:16–cv–00282
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • March 23, 2017
    ...§ 1396n(c)(2)(C) ); Michelle P. ex rel. Deisenroth v. Holsinger, 356 F.Supp.2d 763, 769 (E.D. Ky. 2005) (same); Steward v. Abbott, 189 F.Supp.3d 620, 635–37 (W.D. Tex. 2016) (finding § 1396n(c)(2)(B) and (C) reflect a "congressional intent to create a right in those individuals to such eval......
  • Waskul v. Washtenaw Cnty. Cmty. Mental Health
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • October 29, 2020
    ...Disabilities Servs. , No. 15-2585, 2016 WL 3031719, at *8 (E.D. Pa. May 25, 2016) (§ 1396n(c)(2)(A) ); Steward v. Abbott , 189 F. Supp. 3d 620, 635–37 (W.D. Tex. 2016) (§ 1396n(c)(2) generally); Ill. League of Advocates for the Developmentally Disabled v. Quinn , No. 13-1300, 2013 WL 554892......
  • United States v. Georgia
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • May 13, 2020 the federal government in enforcing the ADA to extend to the power for the federal government to bring suit. See Steward v. Abbott, 189 F. Supp. 3d 620, 640 n.1 (W.D. Tex. May 17, 2016) ; United States v. City and Cnty. of Denver, 927 F. Supp. 1396, 1400 (D. Colo. June 7, 1996). While no......
  • Eaton v. Woodlawn Manor & La. Nursing Home Ass'n Liab. Tr.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Louisiana
    • October 5, 2021
    ...As Defendants properly point out, there is no private right of action for violations of CMS regulations. See, e.g, Steward v. Abbott, 189 F.Supp.3d 620, 639, n. 14 (W.D. Tex. 2016) (collecting cases); see also Drain v. Doctor's Hospice of Ga., Inc., No. 18-CV-2947-SCJ, 2018 WL 9868572, at *......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT