Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

HALDERMAN v. PENNHURST STATE SCH. & HOSP.

August 16, 1993

TERRI LEE HALDERMAN, et al., plaintiffs,
v.
PENNHURST STATE SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL, et al., defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RAYMOND J. BRODERICK

 BRODERICK, J.

 August 16, 1993

 In 1974, this action was filed on behalf of the retarded residents of Pennhurst State School and Hospital asserting violations of their constitutional and statutory rights. After eleven years of active litigation including approximately 500 court orders, 28 published opinions and three arguments before the Supreme Court, the parties entered into a Final Settlement Agreement ("FSA") which was approved and entered as a consent decree and Order of this Court ("Court Decree") on April 5, 1985. Nevertheless, in the eight years following the entrance of the Court Decree, the plaintiffs have been forced to file several motions for enforcement, necessitated by the actions of the defendants.

 In response to one such motion, filed in 1989, the Commonwealth defendants contended that the Court Decree embodied only moral, and not legal, obligations and was unenforceable against them. This Court determined, and the Third Circuit affirmed, that defendants' contentions were meritless. Halderman v. Pennhurst School and Hospital, No. 74-1345, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10147 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 28, 1989), aff'd, Halderman v. Pennhurst School and Hospital, 901 F.2d 311 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 850, 111 S. Ct. 140, 112 L. Ed. 2d 107 (1990). In 1991, the Commonwealth defendants filed their own motion, this time contending that, due to alleged changes in constitutional and statutory law, the Court Decree should be modified, making it unenforceable against them. Again this Court determined, and the Third Circuit affirmed, that defendants' contentions were meritless. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 784 F. Supp. 215, (E.D. Pa.), aff'd, 977 F.2d 568 (3rd Cir. 1992).

 Now, within 8 months of the Third Circuit's rejection of the meritless contentions of the Commonwealth defendants' 1991 motion, they have filed another motion. In their present motion, the defendants assert that all plaintiffs except the United States should be dismissed from this action based on alleged eleventh amendment claims. This Court notes that dismissal of all plaintiffs except the United States would remove those parties directly affected by the actions of the Commonwealth defendants, leaving only the United States as a party capable of bringing enforcement actions.

 Having determined that the Commonwealth defendants' present contention has no more merit than those they raised in 1989 or in 1991, this Court will deny the Commonwealth defendants' motion. In doing so, this Court again, as it did in its 1992 opinion, expresses its dismay that the Commonwealth defendants' motion appears to have been an attempt at delaying full compliance with the Court Decree into which they knowingly and willingly entered in 1985.

 The history of the proceedings in this case is lengthy and is set out in summary in this Court's 1992 opinion, which was filed in response to the Commonwealth defendants' 1991 motion. Halderman, 784 F. Supp. 215, (E.D. Pa.), aff'd, 977 F.2d 568 (3rd Cir. 1992). The proceedings will not be repeated herein except as needed for an understanding of the present posture of this case. In May of 1974, suit was brought as a class action on behalf of former and present residents of Pennhurst State School and Hospital, a state institution for persons with retardation in Spring City, Pennsylvania, against various officials of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania including those of the Pennhurst State School and Hospital and the Department of Public Welfare. In 1975, the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens (now ARC/PA), among others, intervened as plaintiffs, adding as defendants the Mental Health/ Mental Retardation Administrators of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. Also in 1975, the United States of America intervened as a party plaintiff. In November, 1976, the class was certified. The definition of class was amended in 1985, pursuant to the Court Decree, to include only those who were residents of Pennhurst on or after May 30, 1974.

 In 1977, after a 32-day trial limited to the issue of liability, this Court made findings of fact and concluded that certain constitutional and statutory rights of the Pennhurst class had been and were being violated. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 446 F. Supp. 1295 (1977). A summary of this procedural history which followed may be found in this Court's 1985 opinion, Halderman, 610 F. Supp. 1221, 1225-26 (E.D. Pa. 1985). In brief, the defendants appealed to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court. On remand from the Supreme Court, the Third Circuit affirmed on different grounds. On appeal, the Supreme Court heard two oral arguments and remanded once again. Throughout, the findings of fact made by this Court in 1977 were never challenged. Among those findings were that Pennhurst was overcrowded, understaffed and without the programs which experts considered necessary for minimally adequate habilitation. (Habilitation is the term of art used to refer to that education, training and care required by retarded individuals to reach their maximum development.) The evidence clearly showed that, in many instances, life skills that had been possessed by the residents at the time of their admission had been destroyed.

 The evidence further showed that the residents of Pennhurst were regularly subjected to a number of dehumanizing practices, including restraints and psychotropic drugs being used as control measures in lieu of adequate staffing. There were hundreds of resident injuries, both major and minor, reported each month, including some reports of beatings and rapes of the residents by staff. As a direct result of abuse, many residents suffered loss of teeth, broken bones, and physical deterioration. Pennhurst was isolated and segregated, with few of the retarded capable of aiding or protecting their fellow residents, or of complaining about their own treatment. Moreover, because routine housekeeping services were not available during evenings and on weekends, it was common to find urine and feces on ward floors over these periods. The average age of the residents was 36, and the average stay at Pennhurst was 21 years.

 Following the final remand from the Supreme Court and while the case was pending before the Third Circuit, the Commonwealth and the County defendants chose to end active litigation and to enter into the FSA with the plaintiffs under the guidance of Judge Rosenn of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. As stated above, the definition of the plaintiff class was limited to those persons who were residents of Pennhurst on or after May 30, 1974.

 This Court reviewed and approved the FSA, and entered it as a Court Decree and Order of this Court on April 5, 1985. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 610 F. Supp. 1221 (E.D. Pa. 1985).

 As summarized in this Court's 1992 opinion, Halderman, 784 F. Supp. at 217-18, the FSA has four components. The main body of the FSA consists of 22 paragraphs and a glossary of terms. Appendix A is the "heart and soul" of the FSA, and sets forth the substantive services, safeguards and monitoring which the Commonwealth and County defendants agreed to provide each class member. Appendix A is quoted in full in this Court's 1992 opinion, Halderman, 784 F. Supp. at 218-19. Under its terms, the Commonwealth and County defendants agreed, among other things, to provide community living arrangements to each member of the plaintiff class for whom such placement is deemed appropriate, as determined by professional judgment through the individual planning process, together with such community services as are necessary to provide each person with minimally adequate habilitation until such time as the person no longer is in need of such living arrangements and/or community services.

 Of the remaining two components of the FSA, Appendix B sets forth the Commonwealth's obligations with respect to allocation of the funds made available by the closure of Pennhurst, while Appendix C concerns the approval of the FSA and notice to members of the Pennhurst class.

 Pennhurst State School and Hospital was at last closed in 1987. Litigation in this matter, nevertheless, has continued. As stated above, the actions of the defendants have necessitated the filing of several motions by the plaintiffs for enforcement of the Court Decree. As also stated above, in 1989, in response to one such motion filed by ARC/PA, the Commonwealth defendants asserted that the defendants had moral, but not legal, obligations to the members of the Pennhurst class and further, that this Court was without jurisdiction to enforce the Court Decree. This Court, after holding hearings over a period of four days, found that it had jurisdiction and that the defendants in entering into the Court Decree had assumed legal obligations to the Pennhurst class. Further, the Court found that the Commonwealth defendants as well as two of the county defendants were not in substantial compliance with the provisions of the Court Decree and the judgments entered by this Court, in that significant members of the Pennhurst class were still not receiving minimally adequate habilitation. Halderman v. Pennhurst School and Hospital, No. 74-1345, 1989 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10147 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 28, 1989), aff'd, Halderman v. Pennhurst School and Hospital, 901 F.2d 311 (3rd Cir.), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 850, 111 S. Ct. 140, 112 L. Ed. 2d 107 (1990). Affirming, the Third Circuit determined that, following the entry of the Court Decree, jurisdiction over this matter by the district court remained, pursuant to "the usual continuing jurisdiction that courts routinely exercise over their injunctions." Id. at 320. The Third Circuit further determined that Appendix A obligations were "orders of the Court" and not ethical commands. Id. at 319-20. Appendix A, thus, was determined to be "permanent" subject to Rule 60(b). The Commonwealth defendants were held to have a continuing legal obligation to the Pennhurst class.

 In 1991, the Commonwealth defendants made another attempt to avoid the legal obligations they knowingly assumed when they entered into the Court Decree. This time, the Commonwealth defendants filed a motion in which they asserted that Appendix A, the "heart and soul" of the Court Decree, should be vacated. They claimed that, subsequent to the entry of the Court Decree, the legal predicates for Appendix A had been undermined by developments in constitutional substantive due process and equal protection law and in federal statutory rights under Section 504 of the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.