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HALDERMAN v. PENNHURST STATE SCH. & HOSP.

February 26, 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

Pursuant to this Court's Order of January 5, 1982, a hearing was held on February 12, 1982 to consider exceptions filed by W. M. and B. M., the parents of P. M., a minor, and Chester County to the Report of the Hearing Master concerning the community placement of P. M.

 The Hearing Master's Report of December 3, 1981 concluded that the proposed transfer would be more beneficial to P. M. than would continued residence at Pennhurst and that the transfer was voluntary. He therefore authorized and directed the County to proceed with the proposed transfer, and described in his Report the procedures, established by this Court, by which any participant in the hearing may take exception to the Hearing Master's report. On December 14, 1981, W. M. and B. M. and the County filed timely exceptions to the Report. They contended, among other things, that, since the parents of P. M. opposed the transfer, the community placement should not proceed.

 P. M. was scheduled to be transferred as soon as practicable from Pennhurst to the home provided for him in the community. On December 22, 1981, counsel for W. M. and B. M. applied to this Court for a stay of the Hearing Master's Order. The Court scheduled a hearing on the stay and the exceptions to the Hearing Master's Report, which hearing was held on February 12, 1982. At the hearing, the Court was informed by counsel for the County that P. M."s movement to the community was scheduled for February 16, 1982. The Court instructed the County, through its counsel, that P. M. should not be transferred until the Court ruled on the exceptions to the Master's Report. For the reasons hereinafter set forth, the Court will adopt the Report of the Hearing Master and dismiss the exceptions which have been filed to his Report.

 As is well-known to the litigants in the matter, the Court, in its Memorandum of December 23, 1977, 446 F. Supp. 1295, determined that the constitutional and statutory rights of the residents of Pennhurst had been violated by the defendants. The Court further found that the residents of Pennhurst were entitled to receive adequate habilitation in the least restrictive setting so that they might reach their potential as members of our society. "Habilitation" is a term of art used to refer to that education, training and care required by retarded individuals to reach their potential. The Court further found, based on the evidence presented at trial, that Pennhurst as an institution was unable to provide adequate habilitation to its residents and that arrangements should be made to establish community living arrangements which would provide adequate habilitation for the retarded residents of Pennhurst. The Court's Order of March 17, 1978 set forth in detail the procedures for accomplishing this objective.

 On December 13, 1979, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the bulk of the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law, 612 F.2d 84 (3d Cir. 1979). In remanding the case to this Court, the Third Circuit stated however: "(T)here may be some individual patients who, because of advanced age, profound degree of retardation, special needs, or for some other reasons, will not be able to adjust to life outside an institution and thus will be harmed by such a change," and held that there should be a hearing to determine the relative habilitative benefit for each resident prior to his or her transfer to the community. 612 F.2d at 114-16.

 The Supreme Court of the United States on June 30, 1980 entered a Stay Order in connection with its grant of certiorari in Halderman v. Pennhurst. This Stay Order provided that only voluntary transfers from Pennhurst to the community could be made pending its final disposition of the case. On July 14, 1980, this Court held that the Stay Order did not prevent this Court from ordering "voluntary" transfers from Pennhurst to the community. The November 24, 1981 hearing regarding P. M. was held for the purpose of determining (2) whether the transfer was "voluntary", and (b) whether the program of habilitation provided for P. M. in the community living arrangement would be more beneficial to P. M."s habilitation than the habilitation being provided to him at Pennhurst.

 As heretofore pointed out, the Hearing Master found both that P. M."s transfer to the community home was voluntary and that this move would be more beneficial to P. M. than would continued confinement at Pennhurst.

 Before discussing the exceptions filed to the Hearing Master's Report, the Court will address the question as to whether the Hearing Master should continue to hold "voluntariness" hearings for the purpose of determining the voluntariness of a transfer from Pennhurst to the community. On August 13, 1980, the Commonwealth defendants filed a notice of appeal concerning this Court's Order of July 14, 1980 in which this Court directed the Hearing Master to hold "voluntariness" hearings in every instance where a resident of Pennhurst was being transferred to a community living arrangement. The Commonwealth defendants later petitioned to withdraw this appeal and the Court of Appeals granted this request and dismissed the appeal in an Order dated February 9, 1981. On October 13, 1981, the Commonwealth defendants filed with this Court a motion to discontinue the "voluntariness" hearings in light of the Supreme Court's decision in Pennhurst State School and Hospital v. Halderman, 451 U.S. 1, 101 S. Ct. 1531, 67 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1981), reversing the Third Circuit and remanding the case to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.

 This Court has recently concluded that the "voluntariness" hearings, mandated by the Supreme Court's Stay Order of June 30, 1980 are no longer required. The Supreme Court's remand to the Third Circuit on April 20, 1981 terminated its Stay Order of June 30, 1980 upon which this Court had based its Order of July 14, 1980 which directed the Hearing Master to conduct "voluntariness" hearings. A review of applicable decisions indicates that a stay order issued by an appellate court terminates upon that court's disposition of the appeal in the absence of an order to the contrary. See American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co. v. American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres, Inc., 87 S. Ct. 1, 17 L. Ed. 2d 37 (1966); 2 Federal Procedures 3:155 at 357 (1981). The Supreme Court's Stay granted on June 30, 1980 reads as follows:

 
Petitioners' motion for a stay of the judgment of the Court of Appeals, pending final disposition of the cases in this Court, is granted to the extent that the judgment mandates the movement of residents of the Pennhurst facility to "appropriate community living arrangements." In all other respects, the motion is denied.

 From a reading of the above-quoted Order, it was apparent that the Supreme Court Stay was granted "pending a final disposition of the cases in this Court." There is nothing in the Stay Order or the Court's decision indicating that the Stay Order was intended to continue after the case was remanded. It was on this basis that this Court granted the motion of the Commonwealth defendants to discontinue "voluntariness" hearings vacating this Court's Order of July 14, 1980. ...


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