Case: Doe v. Hudspeth

3:75-00036 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi

Filed Date: Feb. 11, 1975

Closed Date: 1980

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On February 11, 1975, individuals who were incarcerated at an institution called the Central Mississippi Retardation Center (the “Center”) brought this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Center and directors of the Board of Mental Health, Department of Mental Health, and State Hospital for the state of Mississippi. The plaintiffs, represented by a local community legal services group, sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations…

On February 11, 1975, individuals who were incarcerated at an institution called the Central Mississippi Retardation Center (the “Center”) brought this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Center and directors of the Board of Mental Health, Department of Mental Health, and State Hospital for the state of Mississippi. The plaintiffs, represented by a local community legal services group, sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Center housed hundreds of individuals as inmates (many of whom were children) and failed to provide them with adequate care and habilitation. According to the complaint, the Center had failed to ever be accredited by either of the two nationally recognized bodies that evaluate and accredit facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities; as a result the Center was ineligible to receive federal financial assistance. The complaint listed a wide array of substandard conditions including: minimal sunlight, fire hazards, almost no furniture, inadequate ventilation, understaffing, no formal habilitation programs, and heavily restricted visiting hours. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that the Center failed to separate inmates by age or by condition and required some inmates to perform labor without compensation.

The Plaintiffs argued (1) that these substandard conditions amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and (2) that because the Defendants had both deprived the Plaintiffs of their right to treatment and habilitation and deprived them of an opportunity to challenge the conditions of their confinement, the Defendants had violated their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the Defendants had violated their rights, a permanent injunction to prevent the Defendants from continuing to operate the Center unless it conformed to Constitutional standards, and class certification as “of all persons who are presently or may in the future be incarcerated in the Central Mississippi Retardation Center.” The case was assigned to Judge William Harold Cox.

In March 1975 the Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order (TRO) for one of the class action representative plaintiffs. According to the complaint, this plaintiff—an inmate admitted at age 15—had never received any education services despite repeated requests, had no supervised activities and was forced to spend his days wandering from ward to ward, was required to work for minimal compensation, and was transferred to the maximum security unit of the Mississippi State Mental Hospital (as a punishment for fighting) without notice of the charges against him or an opportunity to challenge his transfer. On April 1, 1975, the Court granted the TRO for the duration of the litigation. Although the text of the restraining order is unavailable, it likely addressed these conditions. On the same day, the Court also granted class action certification.

The case proceeded to discovery, and in November 1975 the Court granted a motion filed by the Mississippi Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc. for leave to participate as Amicus Curiae in the lawsuit. On February 18, 1977, the parties filed a joint motion for continuance with a memorandum of understanding. Because the Defendants agreed to make significant improvements to the Center that would moot or substantially narrow the issues, the Plaintiffs agreed to postpone the litigation. Specifically, the Defendants agreed in the memorandum to:

1. Implement food and nutrition recommendations made by a consultant;

2. Hire a full time physical therapist and obtain necessary equipment;

3. Hire a full-time pharmacist and follow an individual prescription method of administering medication;

4. Create and implement full-day developmental programming for residents and review/revise habilitation plans for residents at least every six months;

5. Hire a full-time speech therapist; and

6. Maintain and make available the medical records of residents and provide written evidence of the need for transfer before transferring a resident to another facility;

On May 29, 1980, the Court dismissed the case without prejudice. While there is no opinion available, the parties filed a joint motion for dismissal. So it appears that the Defendants took the actions required by the memorandum of understanding. The case is closed.

Summary Authors

Sara Stearns (5/12/2019)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berzon, Stephen P. (District of Columbia)

Edelman, Marion Wright (Massachusetts)

Goode, Steven (District of Columbia)

Levinson, Sanford V. (Massachusetts)

Michaels, David Seth (Mississippi)

Powell, Barry H. (Mississippi)

Trister, Michael B. (Mississippi)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Brantley, James P. (Mississippi)

Hancock, Timmie (Mississippi)

Snyder, Edwin A. (Mississippi)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berzon, Stephen P. (District of Columbia)

Edelman, Marion Wright (Massachusetts)

Goode, Steven (District of Columbia)

Levinson, Sanford V. (Massachusetts)

Michaels, David Seth (Mississippi)

Powell, Barry H. (Mississippi)

Trister, Michael B. (Mississippi)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Brantley, James P. (Mississippi)

Hancock, Timmie (Mississippi)

Snyder, Edwin A. (Mississippi)

Other Attorney(s)

Owen, Ben L. (Mississippi)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

3:75-00036

Original Docket

May 29, 1980

May 29, 1980

Docket

3:75-00036

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

Feb. 11, 1975

Feb. 11, 1975

Complaint

3:75-00036

Joint Motion for Continuance

Feb. 17, 1977

Feb. 17, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

3:75-00036

Memorandum of Understanding

Feb. 17, 1977

Feb. 17, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

3:75-00036

Order [With Judgment of Dismissal]

Feb. 18, 1977

Feb. 18, 1977

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 7, 2022, 3:21 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Mississippi

Case Type(s):

Intellectual Disability (Facility)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 11, 1975

Closing Date: 1980

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Persons who were incarcerated at a facility in Central Mississippi

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Mississippi State Board of Mental Health , State

Mississippi State Department of Mental Health, State

Central Mississippi Retardation Center, State

Mississippi State Hospital, State

Defendant Type(s):

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Voluntary Dismissal

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by staff

Conditions of confinement

Education

Habilitation (training/treatment)

Individualized planning

Juveniles

Neglect by staff

Placement in mental health facilities

Recreation / Exercise

Rehabilitation

Disability:

Mental impairment

Mental Disability:

Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Mental health care, general

Mental health care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run