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Attorney asks court to toss disability suit

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Advocates for the disabled need to come up with a clear and realistic proposal to change a waiting list system that has more than 2,000 caretakers waiting for home-based assistance for the mentally disabled, according to an attorney for Utah.

In the second day of trial, assistant Utah Attorney General Craig Barlow on Tuesday asked the court to throw out the suit filed by the Disability Law Center as soon as attorneys for the center finished with testimony.

Barlow told U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball that no case law shows that Utah is required to offer home-based care as opposed to institutionalizing disabled family members and that the center has failed to provide a concrete plan, including budget numbers, to show how the system can better function with the limited funds budgeted by the Utah Legislature.

The center has also failed to prove discrimination under the Americans with Disability Act, Barlow said.

Barlow called the center's current proposals speculative and "insufficient."

But center attorney Robert Denton argued that any system in which someone waits 10 years for state assistance needs improving. According to state disability officials, 90 percent of the people on the list have already been qualified to receive help but that help can be years away, Denton said.

State officials argue that the list is not first-come, first-serve, but rather those families whose disabled member is in imminent threat of being institutionalized are moved up the list.

Kimball said he would rule on the state's motion to dismiss the suit after he finished hearing the state's witnesses. The trial is expected to continue today.