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Friday, February 21, 2020

State of Utah files for dismissal of suit over state guardianship law, says plaintiffs don't have a claim

By Dawn Geske | Nov 7, 2017

Discrimination 19

SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) – The state of Utah has filed a motion for dismissal of a discrimination suit that has been filed against it regarding H.B. 101 in federal court.

The suit was filed by Katherine C. and Anthony M. in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah in July, as well as by the Disability Law Center, claiming H.B. 101 discriminates against them and their disabilities and violates federal law. 

In its Aug. 4 motion, the State challenges the jurisdiction of the federal court over the suit, claiming it is a state matter.

The state also makes it clear that the plaintiffs lack standing in the case because they have no basis for their claims. Neither Anthony or Katherine are involved in a guardianship proceeding at this time and there is no “controversy” present that would make the bill or law an issue for them now or in the foreseeable future, the state alleges.

"Effective May 10, 2016, House Bill 101 (“H.B. “101”) modified the procedures for appointing a guardian for an incapacitated person. Previously, the procedures required courts to indiscriminately appoint counsel for the person ('potential ward') for whom a guardianship was sought.  This was an inflexible requirement applicable in all cases regardless of the circumstances," the motion states.

The plaintiffs in the case claim the bill is discriminatory towards them as it will make accommodation costs their own burden and are seeking injunctive relief from the court in implementing the bill as well as payment of all guardianship costs and other relief that the court would seek in their favor.

The state also points to the fact that no injury has taken place by the plaintiffs in its motion, and both plaintiff’s parents are not seeking guardianship of them. In the case of Anthony, who is married, his wife would have a legal right to guardianship, making H.B. 101 allegedly ineffective for his situation, the state claims. 

For Katherine’s case, she has expressed that her parents are "concerned" over her ability to function autonomously, according to the motion. While there has been no move by her parents to file for guardianship, Katherine allegedly believes this could be an issue in the future and cause her parents to take away her freedoms as guardians under H.B. 101.

The state of Utah also argued that Katherine and Anthony failed to present facts that prove they would not be provided counsel if “hypothetically” guardianship was sought by their parents. Under H.B. 101, the court can deny counsel if one of five conditions are met, which the state claims the plaintiffs have failed to prove would happen in their cases.

In the dismissal, the state of Utah also takes fault with the Disability Law Center, arguing that no injury was suffered by the firm. The state claims that the Disability Law Center has failed to prove that it will use its limited resources to legally represent individuals that have been denied counsel because of the implementation of H.B. 101 as alleged by the center.

The state of Utah also asked that the injunctive relief be dismissed.

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Organizations in this Story

State of UtahU.S. District Court for the District of Utah