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.

July 21, 1998

TERRI LEE HALDERMAN, et al.,
v.
PENNHURST STATE SCHOOL & HOSPITAL, et al.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM

 BRODERICK, District Judge.

 In 1977, after a thirty-two day trail, this Court held that the constitutional and statutory rights of the members of the Pennhurst class had been violated. In 1985, after several years on appeal, including three arguments before the United States Supreme Court, this Court approved a settlement agreement and entered it as a consent decree (the "1985 Decree"). The settlement was greeted throughout the nation as recognition that persons with mental retardation have the right to habilitation in the community.

 In 1987, the plaintiffs filed a motion to hold two defendants, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania ("Commonwealth") and County of Philadelphia ("Philadelphia"), in contempt for violating the 1985 Decree. Pursuant to a stipulation of the parties, the court appointed a team of experts to review and analyze the level of habilitation being provided to Philadelphia members of the Pennhurst class. Unable to agree on a settlement, a contempt hearing commenced, and in March 1994, the Court held the Commonwealth and Philadelphia in contempt for deliberately violating their obligations under the 1985 Decree. The Court also appointed a Special Master, Mr. Tony records, to oversee compliance with the contempt order and the 1985 Decree.

 Over the past four years, the Commonwealth and Philadelphia have developed numerous programs and plans to rectify their substantial non-compliance with the 1985 Decree. On February 9, 1998, the Court issued a Memorandum and Order reviewing the history of this case and expressing the Court's intention to conclude its active supervision over Philadelphia members of the Pennhurst class. Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital, 995 F. Supp. 534, 535-47 (E.D. Pa. 1998). As a final precaution, however, the Court ordered the Special Master to conduct a comprehensive review of Philadelphia class members to determine whether they are receiving the habilitation, training, and care mandated by the 1985 Decree.

 The Special Master's report, filed June 30, 1998, confirms the remarkable accomplishments which have been achieved since 1994. The Special Master's findings reveal that the defendants are now substantially fulfilling their obligations under the 1985 Decree and that their efforts are providing Philadelphia class members with the level of habilitation, care, and protection from harm required by the Decree. As the report states, "there are few similarities between the support system which existed at the time the Contempt Order was issued and the one currently in existence." Special Master's Report, June 30, 1998, at 7-8. Accordingly, by Order dated today, the Court will: (1) adopt the Special Master's findings; (2) purge the Commonwealth and Philadelphia of all contempt found in 1994; and (3) end the Court's and the Special Master's active supervision over the Philadelphia members of the Pennhurst class.

 There are, of course, some areas where the defendants need to make further efforts to comply with the 1985 Decree. The Special Master's findings reveal that the Commonwealth and Philadelphia have not achieved substantial compliance with respect to the following requirements of the 1985 Decree:

 1. Development of individual habilitation plans in accordance with professional standards

 Although every Philadelphia class member surveyed now has a current individual habilitation plan or individual support plan (IHP/ISP), about one-half of IHP/ISPs were not developed in accordance with professional standards. The Special Master found that many IHP/ISPs lack measurable objectives and adequate descriptions of the types of services that are to be provided. The plans also need to be updated more frequently when significant changes in the class member's life warrant. Finally, every member of the class member's interdisciplinary team must be present at the annual review meeting, and the IHP/ISP must identify the specific individuals responsible for implementing the plan's objectives. The defendants are aware of these problems and have provided the Special Master with an outline of additional steps which are being taken to ensure that IHP/ISPs are developed in accordance with professional standards. See Special Master's Report, June 30, 1998, at Appendix E. The Court is confident that the defendants are committed to achieving substantial compliance with this portion of the 1985 Decree without continued supervision by the Court and the Special Master.

 2. Provision of therapy, day program, vocational, and transportation services

 Compared to four years ago, class members now receive many more services and supports as part of the Decree's requirement that they be provided with minimally adequate habilitation. The vast majority of class members surveyed are receiving the required level of residential supports and other supports to enable them to participate in the community. However, the Special Master's findings indicate that further therapy, day program, vocational, and transportation services are needed to comply with the Decree's requirement of minimally adequate habilitation. The defendants have recognized these concerns and have outlined plans to address them. See Special Master's Report, June 30, 1998, at Appendix E. The Court shares the Special Master's confidence that the defendants are dedicated to achieving substantial compliance with respect to these portions of the 1985 Decree, so that continued supervision by the Court and the Special Master is not necessary.

 3. Investigation of allegations of abuse and neglect

 Four years ago, the Court found that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and County of Philadelphia failed to actively investigate most incidents of abuse, neglect, death and injury of class members. In 1995, the defendants implemented a plan for investigating and resolving such incidents. The Special Master's recent review, however, uncovered several incidents of alleged abuse of class members by their housemates and/or co-workers which were not adequately investigated. Abuse of class members by fellow class members, housemates, or co-workers must be taken just as seriously as abuse of class members by professional staff. Fortunately, the defendants appear to realize this and have assured the Special Master that they will take action to ensure that all allegations of abuse, neglect, and injury are promptly reported and ...


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.