Sally Herriot, a 91-year-old Palo Alto woman who sued Channing House senior community for the right to remain in her private apartment rather than being moved to assisted living, has reached a settlement with the senior-care facility, according to court papers.
Under the settlement agreement, Herriot will move out of her independent-living unit no later than June 1.
She will pay all costs associated with moving and at her new living accommodations outside of the care facility.
The order was signed March 18 by U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose.
In August 2006, Channing House officials sought to move Herriot from her apartment to assisted living, where she would share a hospital-like room with another patient. Channing House officials said she could no longer care for herself without assistance.
But Herriot had hired private caregivers at no expense to Channing House so that she could remain in her comfortable apartment and did not want to be removed from her surroundings.
She filed a potentially landmark housing-discrimination case in January 2007, challenging whether elderly people can be evicted from their apartments against their will if they become disabled or require daily-living assistance.
Herriot's attorneys claimed such removal, although contractual, was not legal because it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act against eviction because of disability.
If successful, the suit could have turned the operational model for continuing-care retirement communities upside down.
Many senior-living centers make decisions unilaterally about when someone needs to move from their independent quarters to an "assisted living" setup.
The lawsuit was litigated by attorneys from Relman, Dane & Colfax, a civil-rights law firm based in Washington, D.C., the Fair Housing Law Project Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and AARP Foundation Litigation.
But Fogel ruled against Herriot in January 2008. California law does not allow Channing House to keep her in the independent-living apartment because she is not independent, he said.
Fogel also upheld the contract between Herriot and Channing House that gave facility officials the right to move her. Herriot appealed the decision in March 2009.
Once Herriot has moved out, Channing House is not obligated to provide for her care.
Herriot could move into Channing House's skilled-nursing care in the future if her personal physician deems it medically necessary and in her best interest, according to the settlement. Channing House would not charge her an entrance fee if she does enter the skilled-nursing facility.
Herriot's attorneys and her son did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Carl Braginsky, Channing House executive director, said he is precluded by the agreement from speaking about the case.
"Sally Herriot and Channing House have amicably resolved the litigation between them after the federal district court entered summary judgment in favor of Channing House, and prior to a hearing on the appeal taken by Mrs. Herriot," he said, quoting a paragraph stipulated as the only public statement allowed by the settlement.
"It is a confidential agreement," he said.