Murphy et al. v. Harpstead

This federal class action lawsuit, (formerly Murphy et al. v. Piper et al.), filed by Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Minnesota Disability Law Center, challenged the state’s over-reliance on corporate foster care homes, as placements for individuals with disabilities. It further highlighted the state’s failure to impart information about steps residents could take to pursue individualized housing and service options.

In June 2022, the parties reached a settlement agreement, requiring the Department of Human Services to take a variety of actions to improve the administration of its programs and to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to move to and live in homes of their own.


  • Increased training of those providing services to the class
  • Providing of housing transition services to class members
  • Data collection to ensure that class members are moving to their own homes

Preliminary and final approval

Because the matter is a class action, the settlement agreement required both preliminary and final approval from federal court before taking effect. With preliminary approval granted in July of 2022, final approval was granted in June of 2023.

Objections overruled

Notice of the preliminary approval and notice of the settlement agreement was sent to more than 2500 individuals. Eight individuals filed objections to the agreement. The court heard the objections at a fairness hearing, May 12, 2023. The court issued an order overruling the objections, June 14, 2023, granting final approval of the agreement.

Related links

Memorandum Opinion and Order
News Release
Minnesota Lawyer – Fighting for disabled Minnesotans
Minnesota Lawyer – 2022 Attorneys of the year: Murphy v. Harpstead