Press Releases

DIDD: Federal Judge Approves Exit Plan for 20-year-old Lawsuit

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities; January 30, 2015:

Completion of Exit Plan could lead to dismissal of 20-year disabilities lawsuit

NASHVILLE—A federal judge issued an order on Thursday approving an Exit Plan that ultimately will lead to the end of a nearly 20-year-old lawsuit stemming from conditions at three current and former state developmental centers for persons with intellectual disabilities.

The order was issued by U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp and approves the Exit Plan in the long-standing Clover Bottom lawsuit. The Exit Plan was agreed to and executed by all of the parties to the lawsuit: the State, the U.S. Department of Justice, People First of Tennessee and the Parent Guardian Associations of Clover Bottom Developmental Center and Greene Valley Developmental Center.

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD), the Bureau of TennCare and the Attorney General’s office participated in court-ordered mediation for six months to reach the Exit Plan. The order entered by Judge Sharp calls for a two-phase dismissal of the lawsuit based on the state completing obligations set forth in the Exit Plan.

The first phase is comprised of eight responsibilities DIDD and TennCare must complete by December 31, 2015 in order for the lawsuit to be partially dismissed. These responsibilities include:

  • Developing behavior respite services in East and Middle Tennessee
  • Revising support plan templates for persons supported and requiring training for support coordinators
  • Developing training for licensed physicians on the use of psychotropic medications for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Enhancing training for law enforcement who may come into contact with persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities

The second phase requires the closure of Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville by June 30, 2016.  Upon closure, the lawsuit would be fully and finally dismissed.

“Coming to this Exit Plan required us to make some tough decisions, and we have a lot of work ahead of us,” DIDD Commissioner Debra Payne said. “However, we believe the Exit Plan as a whole will benefit not only the members of the lawsuit class but also every person who receives DIDD services now and in the future.”

The lawsuit was brought by People First of Tennessee and the U.S. Department of Justice in 1995 over conditions at Clover Bottom Developmental Center, Greene Valley Developmental Center and the now-closed Nat T. Winston Developmental Center. Clover Bottom Developmental Center is scheduled to close this summer.

Press Releases

Comptroller: ‘Serious Problems’ Found in DIDD Services

Press release from the office of the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury; October 22, 2013:

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) must remedy serious problems in its service recipient safety practices, service delivery system, and information system implementation efforts, according to a report released today by the Comptroller’s office.

The department provides services directly to recipients or indirectly through contracts with community providers in a variety of settings, ranging from institutional care to individual supported living in the community. DIDD was serving 8,096 individuals as of May 31 of this year.

Among other findings, state auditors reported that:

  • DIDD’s former deputy commissioner of the Office of Policy and Innovation improperly assumed authority to overturn two substantiated allegations of misconduct against provider employees and therefore did not intend to hold the provider accountable for service recipient deaths;
  • The department did not establish appropriate safeguards to govern the background checks of DIDD employees, volunteers, or provider employees. That deficiency resulted in employees beginning work before background checks were completed, volunteers who had no background checks performed, and provider employees with disqualifying drug convictions that went undetected;
  • DIDD was not providing adequate services for individuals with developmental disabilities in violation of statutory requirements and its own mission statement;
  • Until top state officials find a sufficient funding solution, the high number of individuals with intellectual disabilities on the waiting list for Medicaid services will continue to plague the department; and
  • Since 1994, DIDD has spent at least $4.3 million to replace its outdated information system with little to show for the expense. DIDD has estimated that it will spend another $11.8 million to complete the project.

“DIDD serves some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. “Therefore, the department must do its utmost to ensure the safety of each individual served and to enhance the quality of life of all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Auditors will present their findings at a meeting of the General Assembly’s Government Operations Joint Subcommittee on Education, Health and General Welfare on October 23. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in Hearing Room 16 at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville.

To view the DIDD report online, go to: