News from Kevin DeLiban, a lawyer with Legal Aid of Arkansas, on an important win in federal court for the lawsuit against Arkansas over the state’s handling of the ARChoices Medicaid home services program for disabled people.

His summary follows of federal Judge Kristine Baker’s decision not to dismiss the two-year-old suit against the state today. The suit was against the state and state officials acting in their individual capacities.

After several amendments and consolidating the cases of different plaintiffs, we received a decision today from Judge Baker ruling against the state’s motion to dismiss. We prevailed on all grounds, including breaking through the defendants’ claims of qualified immunity. That’s the doctrine that usually prevents government officials, including police officers, from being held individually liable for illegal actions.
The Court’s ruling means the suit can move forward and that the DHS officials can potentially be personally liable to the plaintiffs for damages they caused. Here, the state cut or terminated the plaintiffs’ ARChoices Medicaid home-care services despite the plaintiffs’ requests to keep services in place pending an appeal, which is an established constitutional right. The plaintiffs ended up going without the needed services for several months, causing them to suffer awfully. The details are recounted in the attached complaint.
When the suit was filed, we noted that the crux of the case was denial of appeals for those denied home services that they used to avoid being placed in facilities. That decision had some harsh consequences.
The judge’s order denying the state’s motion to dismiss the case, which it is certain to appeal.