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HALDERMAN v. PENNHURST STATE SCH. & HOSP.

January 14, 1983

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

 BRODERICK, J.

 Though the defendants in this litigation have been required by Court Order for more than 5 years to provide the members of the plaintiff class with minimally adequate habilitation in the least restrictive environment, the placement of these retarded citizens into such adequate habilitation environments is being accomplished at a very slow pace. On March 2, 1981, this Court was forced to enter an Order mandating the community placements of a specific number of class members between March 2, 1981 and June 30, 1982. At this juncture, the modest requirements of the March 2, 1981 Order still have not been fulfilled. During September and October, 1982, this Court held a hearing concerning the defendants' plans for placing class members in adequate community facilities during fiscal years 1982-1983 and 1983-84 (through June 30, 1984) (hereinafter the "September hearing"). Based on the evidence presented at the hearing and the record in this case, the Court has reluctantly concluded that it must again issue an Order requiring the defendants to provide a specified minimum number of community placements during the next 18 months.

 The Order which this Court will enter does not, however, set requirements that will be difficult for the defendants to meet. In fact, the requirements of the Order are consistent with the County defendants' own proposals for community placements during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 fiscal years. The Commonwealth defendants, however, in the plan which they submitted to the Court, apparently have no present intention to fund the County defendants' proposals during the 1982-83 fiscal year and plan to fund only 150 class member placements during fiscal 1983-84, contingent upon receiving federal funds pursuant to the 2176 waiver of Title XIX of the Medicaid Program.

 To facilitate understanding of the Court's decision regarding 1982-83 and 1983-84 fiscal year community placements of the class members, the Court will first review the history of this matter, particularly the enforcement Orders of the Court entered to ensure compliance with the primary injunctive Order, and will also review the defendants' past opposition and occasional defiance of the Court's Orders.

 History of the Litigation

 As is well-known to the litigants, this case began in 1974 as a class action in which the named plaintiffs, retarded persons (the "Pennhurst class") who were either residents of Pennhurst State School and Hospital ("Pennhurst") or on the waiting list for residence at Pennhurst as of May 30, 1974, claimed injury based on violations of certain state and federal statutes and the United States Constitution in connection with their institutionalization at Pennhurst. At trial, all parties, including the Commonwealth defendants as well as the other defendants, agreed that Pennhurst as an institution was inappropriate and inadequate for the habilitation of mentally retarded citizens, and that the retarded should be educated, trained, and cared for in community living arrangements. The defendants insisted, however, that they be permitted to accomplish the community placement of Pennhurst residents pursuant to their own schedule. The Court found this "schedule" to be vague and indefinite. On December 23, 1977, this Court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law ( Memorandum of December 23, 1977, 446 F. Supp. 1295) which found that the defendants were violating the constitutional and statutory rights of the Pennhurst Class by failing to provide them with minimally adequate habilitation in the least restrictive environment. This holding has been affirmed on two occasions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, sitting en banc. The legal bases for its affirmances were predicated upon federal and state statutes; the constitutional violations found by this Court have not as yet been directly addressed by either the Third Circuit or the United States Supreme Court.

 On January 6, 1978, this Court held a hearing to determine the injunctive relief necessary to remedy the violations. The parties were asked to attempt to agree on the terms of the Court's order, but no agreement was forthcoming. On March 17, 1978, the Court issued an injunctive Order setting forth the relief to which the retarded residents of Pennhurst were entitled (446 F. Supp. at 1326).

 This Court further ordered that Individual Habilitation Plans be developed for each member of the plaintiff class, that appropriate community monitoring mechanisms be designed and implemented, that a friend-advocate system be established to represent those class members who were without family or guardian, and that a Special Master be appointed to monitor the defendants' planning and implementation activities and report to the Court on the defendants' compliance with the Court's Orders.

 The Order of March 17, 1978 was appealed to the Third Circuit however, defendants' application for a stay of the Order was denied. During the pendency of the appeal, this Court issued three major Orders in this case. One of these, the Order of June 8, 1979, set forth a specific timetable for the transfer to the community by September 1, 1979 of the approximately 55 school-age residents of Pennhurst. This Order was necessary because only three school-age residents of Pennhurst had been placed in community living arrangements between March 17, 1978, the date of the Court's original injunctive Order, and June 8, 1979. As of April 22, 1982, 14 of the school-age residents covered by the Order of June 8, 1979 still had not been transferred to community living arrangements (Report of the Special Master, April 22, 1982).

 On December 13, 1979, the Court of Appeals issued an Order substantially affirming this Court's Order of March 17, 1978, and remanding the matter to this Court for further proceedings. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 612 F.2d 84. This Court, pursuant to the remand order, established an impartial hearing procedure and appointed a Hearing Master to provide the individual determinations mandated by the Circuit Court for Pennhurst residents being placed into the community, and for other retarded members of the class being recommended for admission to other state institutions for the mentally retarded.

 The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case on June 10, 1980, and on June 30, 1980 entered a limited stay order which, in effect, allowed only "voluntary" transfers of Pennhurst residents to the community pending final disposition of the matter. On July 14, 1980, this Court ordered the Hearing Master to hold a hearing for each Pennhurst resident for whom a community living arrangement had been prepared, for the purpose of determining whether the proposed transfer from Pennhurst to the community was "voluntary." On December 1, 1980, the Supreme Court declined to disturb this Court's interpretation and application of its stay order. On February 22, 1982, this Court granted the Commonwealth defendants' motion to discontinue voluntariness hearings on the ground that the stay order requiring such hearings was dissolved by the Supreme Court's subsequent decision on the merits. See Memorandum and Order of February 22, 1982.

 On April 20, 1981, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit's determination that the Bill of Rights for the Handicapped contained in the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6010, created in favor of the mentally retarded a substantive right to appropriate habilitation and treatment in the least restrictive environment. The Supreme Court remanded this case to the Third Circuit for consideration of the federal Constitutional and statutory issues as well as the state law questions raised by this Court in its Memorandum of December 23, 1977 (451 U.S. 1, 101 S. Ct. 1531, 1546-47, 67 L. Ed. 2d 694).

 On February 26, 1982, the Third Circuit, pursuant to the Supreme Court's remand, issued its second en banc decision in this case. The Third Circuit again affirmed, holding that Pennsylvania's Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act of 1966, 50 Pa. Stat. Ann. §§ 4101-4704 (Purdon 1969), granted Pennsylvania's retarded citizens the right to adequate habilitation in the least restrictive environment. Although the Supreme Court again granted certiorari on June 21, 1982, there is no stay of this Court's Orders mandating the community placement of those Pennhurst residents whose individual habilitation plans require community living arrangements in order to provide for their adequate habilitation. (Orders of March 17, 1978; June 8, 1979; April 24, 1980; March 2, 1981).

 Based on the evidence presented at the trial of this case, the Court found, and the defendants admitted, that Pennhurst, in 1977, did not "meet the minimum standards for the habilitation of its residents." (446 F. Supp. at 1302). The Court also found that Pennhurst was overcrowded and understaffed and without the programs which the experts considered necessary for minimally adequate habilitation. The evidence showed that a large number of Pennhurst residents had actually experienced a regression of basic living skills as a result of their confinement at Pennhurst. All parties to the litigation agreed that Pennhurst as an institution was inappropriate and inadequate for the habilitation of the retarded. (446 F. Supp. at 1304). Programming and training of the retarded Pennhurst residents was found to fall far short of the minimum required for adequate habilitation according to the uncontradicted expert testimony of habilitation professionals. (446 F. Supp. at 1304). Not only was the habilitation then inadequate, but Pennhurst had no plans for improving the programming available to its residents. (446 F. Supp. at 1305).

 Based upon the uncontradicted evidence presented at trial, the Court found that

 
Since the Early 1960's there has been a distinct humanistic renaissance, replete with the acceptance of the theory of normalization for the habilitation of the retarded. Mason & Menolascino, supra, note 6, at 136. [ The Right to Treatment for Mentally Retarded Citizens: An Evolving Legal and Scientific Interface, 10 Creighton L.Rev. 124 (1976)]. The principles of normalization are an outgrowth of studies showing that those in large institutions suffered from apathy, stunted growth and loss in I.Q., and that the smaller the living unit on which the retarded individual lived, the higher the level of behavioral functioning shown by the individual. (Roos, N.T. 1-96 to 1-104). Under the principles of normalization, the retarded individual is treated as much like the non-retarded person as possible. (Id., N.T. 1-106, 1-107). The basic tenet of normalization is that a person responds according to the way he or she is treated. (Glenn, N.T. 5-186, 5-187). The thrust of habilitation through normalization is the remediation of the delayed learning process, so as to develop the maximum growth potential by the acquisition of self-help, language, personal, social, educational, vocational and recreation skills. Mason & Menolascino, supra, note 6, at 139-140. The older theories of habilitating the retarded stressed protecting the individual, and were characterized by little expectation of growth. Given this lack of expectation, the individual rarely exhibited growth. However, once removed from depressing, restrictive routines, the retarded have been able to accomplish a great deal. (Dybwad, N.T. 7-160).
 
The environment at Pennhurst is not conducive to normalization. It does not reflect society. It is separate and isolated from society and represents group rather than family living. (Hirst, N.T. 7-124). The principles of normalization have been accepted by the administration of Pennhurst and by the Department of Public Welfare, which is responsible for the administration of programs for the retarded in the five county area (Youngberg, N.T. 22-171; Rice, N.T. 26-43 to 26-45; Bilyew, N.T. 24-13; Hirst, N.T. 7-120), and the ...

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