Pennhurst & PA Deinstitutionalization


Embreeville Center – Coatesville, PA

In January of 1994, we brought a lawsuit on behalf of a class of about 250 Embreeville residents, Pennsylvania Protection & Advocacy, Inc., and the Arc of Pennsylvania alleging that residents had been neglected, kept in inhumane conditions, and denied effective treatment. The lawsuit, Nelson v. Snider, built on investigations and litigation initiated in the late 1980s by the U.S. Department of Justice, and the two cases were consolidated soon after we filed.

In March of 1994, the class of Embreeville residents was certified, and a pretrial ruling prevented the defendants from relitigating questions previously answered by the Court in the Pennhurst case about the negative effects of institutionalization. The state, which had previously been unwilling to negotiate, quickly agreed to settle. In the settlement, we agreed that Embreeville would be gradually downsized and ultimately closed in 1997, and the settlement would stay in effect to ensure that the residents placed in the community were provided adequate services.