Case: Foe v. Cuomo

1:75-cv-01029 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Filed Date: June 27, 1975

Closed Date: 1988

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On June 27, 1975, involuntarily committed mental patients at the Brooklyn State Hospital (since renamed the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center) in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs asked the district court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding, inadequate staffing, poor physical facilities…

On June 27, 1975, involuntarily committed mental patients at the Brooklyn State Hospital (since renamed the Kingsboro Psychiatric Center) in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of New York in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The plaintiffs asked the district court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding, inadequate staffing, poor physical facilities, and discrimination on the basis of race, economic hardship, and voluntary status of committal.

On January 16, 1976, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Judge Edward Raymond Neaher) dismissed all of the plaintiffs' claims except the equal protection claim. Woe v. Mathews, 408 F. Supp. 419 (E.D.N.Y. 1976). The plaintiffs appealed. On June 10, 1977, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a table opinion affirming the district court's judgment. Woe v. Weinberger, 562 F.2d 40 (2nd Cir. 1977). The plaintiffs appealed. On January 23, 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Woe v. Califano, 434 U.S. 1048 (1978).

In the four years that followed, the parties underwent discovery, amended their pleadings, and negotiated. On March 1, 1983, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Judge Neaher) granted summary judgment to the defendants and dismissed the case, holding that: 1) the hospital system's accreditation criteria were sufficient to satisfy due process requirements of patients, 2) that involuntary commitment of mental patients, when compared to the private institutionalization of voluntarily committed patients, did not violate the equal protection clause, and 3) that the issue of whether a non-accredited facility could be found to have fallen below constitutional standards did not meet the class-action criteria for this case. Woe v. Cuomo, 559 F. Supp. 1158 (E.D.N.Y. 1983) . The plaintiffs appealed.

On February 22, 1984, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Irving R. Kaufman) reversed the district court's dismissal and remanded the case, holding that summary judgment had been inappropriate. Woe v. Cuomo, 729 F.2d 96 (2nd Cir. 1984). The defendants appealed. On October 29, 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Woe v. Cuomo, 469 U.S. 936 (1984).

On July 1, 1986, the U.S. District Court (Judge Neaher) granted the plaintiffs a permanent injunction, holding that the psychiatric center provided constitutionally inadequate care, noting that the facility was overcrowded and that it did not provide adequate clothing, storage, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, paper towels, or bed linens. The court also noted that the facility was extremely dirty and smelly, infested with vermin, had poor plumbing, posed fire safety problems, and contained inadequate first aid equipment. The court enjoined the defendants from admitting any additional patients to the facility until these problems had been fixed. Woe v. Cuomo, 638 F. Supp. 1506 (E.D.N.Y. 1986). The defendants appealed.

On September 29, 1986, the Second Circuit reversed the issuance of the injunction and remanded the case, holding that: 1) the district court acted prematurely in granting a permanent injunction without notice at a hearing on a request for a preliminary injunction, 2) that the evidence supported the issuance of a preliminary injunction, but the court should have given the defendants the opportunity to present alternatives. Woe v. Cuomo, 801 F.2d 627 (2nd Cir. 1986).

On December 2, 1986, Judge Neaher recused himself, and the case was reassigned to Judge Henry Bramwell. On January 14, 1987, Judge Bramwell retired, and the case was reassigned to Judge John R. Bartels. In this intervening time, the lead plaintiff (Walter Woe) died, and his place was filled by Frank Foe.

On November 17, 1988, the district court (Judge Bartels) approved a settlement agreement between the parties and closed the case. Foe v. Cuomo, 700 F. Supp. 107 (E.D.N.Y. 1988). We have no information on the content of this settlement agreement. Some members of the plaintiff class appealed the court's approval of the agreement, and on December 15, 1989, the Second Circuit affirmed the district court's approval of the agreement. Foe v. Cuomo, 892 F.2d 196 (2nd Cir. 1989). The plaintiffs appealed. On November 13, 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari. Foe v. Cuomo, 498 U.S. 972 (1990). On November 24, 1993, the plaintiffs asked the district court to award them attorneys' fees, but on March 1, 1994, the plaintiffs withdrew the motion and informed the court that they had reached an attorney fee settlement.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (7/18/2006)

Nick Kabat (11/26/2014)

People


Judge(s)

Altimari, Frank X. (New York)

Bartels, John Ries (New York)

Cardamone, Richard J. (New York)

Kaufman, Irving Robert (New York)

Miner, Julius Howard (Illinois)

Neaher, Edward Raymond (New York)

Oakes, James Lowell (Vermont)

Pierce, Lawrence Warren (New York)

Timbers, William Homer (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Birnbaum, Morton (New York)

Judge(s)

Altimari, Frank X. (New York)

Bartels, John Ries (New York)

Cardamone, Richard J. (New York)

Kaufman, Irving Robert (New York)

Miner, Julius Howard (Illinois)

Neaher, Edward Raymond (New York)

Oakes, James Lowell (Vermont)

Pierce, Lawrence Warren (New York)

Timbers, William Homer (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Birnbaum, Morton (New York)

Carion, Elsa (New York)

Garofallou, George D. (New York)

Greenfest, Mark (New York)

Kurzmann, Mark J. (New York)

Lottman, Michael S. (New York)

Zuckerman, Burton (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Abrams, Robert W. (New York)

Brutten, Caren S. (New York)

Caplow, William J. (New York)

Fleischer, Arnold D. (New York)

Halleck, Nancy H. (New York)

Hyman, Cyril (New York)

Lefkowitz, Louis J. (New York)

Leventhal, Melvyn R. (New York)

McMurray, Ralph L. (New York)

Petrila, John (New York)

Schneps, Murray B. (New York)

Sherwood, O. Peter (New York)

Trager, David G. (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:75-cv-01029

Docket [PACER]

Woe v. Cuomo

March 1, 1994

March 1, 1994

Docket

1:75-cv-01029

Reported Opinion

Woe v. Mathews

408 F.Supp. 419

Jan. 16, 1976

Jan. 16, 1976

Order/Opinion

77-05692

Memorandum Decision

Woe v. Califano

Supreme Court of the United States

434 U.S. 1048, 98 S.Ct. 895, 54 L.Ed.2d 799

Jan. 23, 1978

Jan. 23, 1978

Order/Opinion

1:75-cv-01029

Opinion

559 F.Supp. 1158

March 16, 1983

March 16, 1983

Order/Opinion

83-07269

Reported Opinion

Woe v. Cuomo

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

729 F.2d 96

Feb. 22, 1984

Feb. 22, 1984

Order/Opinion

84-05445

Memorandum Decision

Woe v. Cuomo

Supreme Court of the United States

469 U.S. 936, 105 S.Ct. 339, 83 L.Ed.2d 274

Oct. 29, 1984

Oct. 29, 1984

Order/Opinion

1:75-cv-01029

Reported Opinion

Woe by Woe v. Cuomo

638 F.Supp. 1506

July 1, 1986

July 1, 1986

Order/Opinion

86-07563

Reported Opinion

Woe by Woe v. Cuomo

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

801 F.2d 627

Sept. 29, 1986

Sept. 29, 1986

Order/Opinion

1:75-cv-01029

Opinion and Order Approving Settlement

700 F.Supp. 107

Nov. 17, 1988

Nov. 17, 1988

Order/Opinion

88-09075

89-07037

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

892 F.2d 196

Dec. 15, 1989

Dec. 15, 1989

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 15, 2022, 3:15 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link

Case closed. (Vaughn, Terry) (Entered: 12/01/1993)

Nov. 18, 1988

Nov. 18, 1988

REFER TO MANUAL DOCKET FOR PRIOR ENTRIES. (Vaughn, Terry) (Entered: 12/01/1993)

Nov. 24, 1993

Nov. 24, 1993

1

MOTION by Morton Birnbaum for attorney fees . Motion hearing set for November 1993 . (Exhibits A-G annexed). (Vaughn, Terry) Modified on 12/01/1993 (Entered: 12/01/1993)

Nov. 24, 1993

Nov. 24, 1993

3

STIPULATION of Settlement of Attorney's Fees and Costs. ( Signed by Judge John R. Bartels dtd 2/23/94). (Yuen, Sui May) (Entered: 03/01/1994)

March 1, 1994

March 1, 1994

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Mental Health (Facility)

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 27, 1975

Closing Date: 1988

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Involuntarily committed mental patients of the Brooklyn State Hospital/Kingsboro Psychiatric Center

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

State of New York (New York), State

Defendant Type(s):

Hospital/Health Department

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1988 - 0

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Bathing and hygiene

Classification / placement

Commitment procedure

Sanitation / living conditions

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Discrimination-basis:

Race discrimination

Medical/Mental Health:

Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run