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Mayor Gray Announces Settlement in Longstanding <i>Dixon</i> Lawsuit

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Historic agreement ends 37-year-old suit and removes District from court oversight.

Doxie McCoy (EOM)
[email protected]
(202) 727-9691

Phyllis Jones (DMH)
[email protected]
(202) 631-3077  

Mayor Vincent C. Gray today announced a settlement in the 37-year-old-Dixon class-action lawsuit and the end of court oversight of the District’s public mental health system. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas F. Hogan approved the settlement between the District and Dixon plaintiffs’ counsel in a hearing today and dismissed the lawsuit.

“This is an historic day in the District of Columbia, and this settlement affirms the significant progress we have made in building a high-quality, community-based mental health system,” said Mayor Gray. “It also is a great victory for District residents, as we have regained control over critical mental-health services and can hold the District government accountable for effective service delivery.”

Under the terms of the settlement, the District commits to adding 300 affordable housing units, expanding job-readiness services for adults with mental illness to help them get and keep a job, and increasing treatment services with proven records of good outcomes at home and in the community instead of out-of-home placements for children.

“We are confident that we can meet the obligations of the settlement agreement and make our mental-health system even stronger,” said Stephen T. Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health (DMH).

The Dixon lawsuit was filed in 1974 by patients at Saint Elizabeths Hospital because mental-health treatment in the community was not available to people who did not require institutionalization. At that time, more than 3,600 patients were at Saint Elizabeths. Today, more than 20,000 District residents get mental-health treatment and support from a network of 37 community providers. Less than 300 require residential treatment at Saint Elizabeths.