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HALDERMAN v. PENNHURST STATE SCH. & HOSP.

January 6, 1982

Terri Lee HALDERMAN et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
PENNHURST STATE SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL et al., Defendants, United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens et al., Plaintiffs-Intervenors



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM

 The Court also issued the following Orders requiring the Commonwealth defendants, pursuant to this Court' s Orders of March 17, 1978, 446 F. Supp. 1295 at 1326, July 27, 1978, April 24, 1980 and June 10, 1980, to fund the Special Master and the Hearing Master:

 
-Orders of August 20, 1981 to pay $ 67,746.07 into the Registry of this Court on or before September 1, 1981 for the purpose of defraying the costs of the Special Master and the Hearing Master;
 
-Orders of September 16, 1981 to pay $ 67,746.68 into the Registry of this Court on or before October 1, 1981 for the purpose of defraying the costs of the Special Master and the Hearing Master;
 
-Orders of October 22, 1981 to pay $ 67,746.68 into the Registry of this Court on or before November 1, 1981 for the purpose of defraying the costs of the Special Master and the Hearing Master;
 
-Order of November 18, 1981 to pay $ 8,594.00 into the Registry of this Court on or before December 1, 1981 for the purpose of defraying the costs of the Hearing Master;
 
-Order of November 24, 1981 to pay $ 59,152.68 into the Registry of this Court on or before December 1, 1981 for the purpose of defraying the costs of the Special Master.

 The Commonwealth defendants have defaulted on all of these Orders, bringing their total default on Orders to fund the Masters to $ 371,478.27. Plaintiffs have filed motions that defendants should be found in contempt for their failure to comply with these Orders of the Court.

 On December 11, 1981, the Court issued a Rule to Show Cause why the Commonwealth defendants should not be held in contempt and scheduled a hearing to show cause. At the hearing, held on December 21, 1981, counsel for the Commonwealth defendants and counsel for the plaintiffs agreed that the presentation of additional evidence was unnecessary in that all parties would be bound by the evidence concerning contempt presented at the hearing held on July 24, 1981. Upon consideration of these motions, responses thereto, previous pleadings and hearings regarding the contempt Orders of this Court, for the reasons set forth in this Court's Memorandum of August 25, 1981, the Court finds that the Commonwealth defendants are in contempt of the Orders of this Court.

 As is now well known to the litigants, the Court, in an opinion entered December 23, 1977, 446 F. Supp. 1295, found defendants to have violated the constitutional and statutory rights of the plaintiff class. On March 17, 1978, the Court issued an Order, 446 F. Supp. 1295 at 1326, setting forth the injunctive relief to which the plaintiff class was entitled. Part of this relief included a Special Master who would monitor the defendants' compliance with the Court's Orders in this matter. The Court's Order of April 24, 1980 established a Hearing Master to provide further procedural protections for the retarded members of the class. These and other Orders of the Court (Orders of June 27, 1978 and June 10, 1980) have required the Commonwealth defendants to fund the Masters' Offices and, as heretofore pointed out, the costs of the Masters' Offices are costs of litigation pursuant to Rules 53 and 54 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, costs which have been assessed against the Commonwealth defendants. During 1978, 1979, and 1980, the Commonwealth defendants paid the costs of the Special Master and the Hearing Master without challenging the aforementioned Orders.

 As set forth in the Court's Memorandum of August 25, 1981, the Commonwealth defendants engaged in a concerted effort to induce the state legislature to refuse to appropriate the funds necessary to operate the Master's Offices. After succeeding in this attempt to subvert the Court's Orders in this case, the Commonwealth defendants then took the position that they were prevented from complying with the Court's Orders to fund the Masters' Offices. The Court found that the Commonwealth defendants were in contempt of this Court's Orders of June 4, 1981 and July 14, 1981. The Court, in its Order of August 25, 1981, ordered the Commonwealth defendants to pay a coercive and compensatory civil contempt fine of $ 10,000 per day. Although the Commonwealth defendants have paid fines which now total more than $ 900,000, they have made no attempt to comply with the Court's funding Orders. Since August, 1981, the Commonwealth defendants have continued their contempt of this Court's Orders requiring them to fund the Offices of the Special Master and the Hearing Master. We therefore find that defendants Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and its Secretary, the Honorable Helen O'Bannon, are in contempt of the Orders of this Court dated August 20, 1981, September 16, 1981, October 22, 1981, November 18, 1981, and November 24, 1981.

 On Motion To Purge Contempt

 Defendants Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and its Secretary, the Honorable Helen O'Bannon (hereinafter, the Commonwealth defendants), have filed with this Court a motion asking that they be purged of contempt and relieved of their obligation to make payments in the future of the coercive and compensatory civil contempt fine of $ 10,000 per day pursuant to this Court's Memorandum and Order of August 25, 1981, finding them in contempt for failing to fund the Offices of the Special Master and the Hearing Master in this case. For the reasons hereinafter set forth, the Court will purge the Commonwealth defendants of contempt and relieve the Commonwealth defendants of their obligation to make payments in the future based upon the Court's finding that the total fines paid to date will be used by this Court to carry out the Court's injunctive Orders in this case. The Court will use its equitable power over the fund created by the fines to finance the Offices of the Special Master and ...


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