Case: Thomas S. v. Flaherty

3:82-cv-00418 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina

Filed Date: July 7, 1982

Closed Date: 1998

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 7, 1982, a mentally disabled ward of the state of North Carolina, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him treatment of his mental disabilities (intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia) in a less restrictive, more community-based setting. On May 26, 1983, the parties agreed to a special …

On July 7, 1982, a mentally disabled ward of the state of North Carolina, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him treatment of his mental disabilities (intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia) in a less restrictive, more community-based setting.

On May 26, 1983, the parties agreed to a special treatment plan which provided appropriate community-based treatment for the plaintiff until March 1, 1984. That agreement was incorporated into a judgment by the court, and the court deferred ruling on all the parties' motions for summary judgment, designating the case as inactive until February 1, 1984. During the interim, the plaintiff was shifted to three additional placements. The defendants eventually placed him in the Gaston County detoxification facility because they had no other place for him to live.

On September 18, 1984, the court (Judge James Bryan McMillan) granted summary judgment to the plaintiff on his constitutional claims. The court held that the defendants, who had been appointed guardians of the plaintiff, were charged with the responsibility, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to ensure that legitimate restraints placed on the plaintiff were no more restrictive than necessary. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Morrow, 601 F.Supp. 1055 (W.D.N.C. 1984). The defendants appealed.

On December 7, 1984, the district court permitted the intervention of four additional plaintiffs and certified them as a class. However, the court stayed further litigation on behalf of the intervening plaintiffs and class members pending the outcome of the defendants' appeal. On January 9, 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Judge John Decker Butzner, Jr.) affirmed the district court's decision. Thomas S. v. Morrow, 781 F.2d 367 (4th Cir. 1986). The defendants appealed that decision, and on May 19, 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Kirk v. Thomas S., 476 U.S. 1124 (1986).

On November 21, 1988, following trial, the district court (Judge McMillan) held that the defendants had violated the due process rights of the members of the plaintiff class. The court held that the plaintiffs had a constitutional right to live in a minimally adequate habilitation in a safe environment, free from undue bodily restraint. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Flaherty, 699 F.Supp. 1178 (W.D.N.C. 1988). The defendants appealed. On May 23, 1990, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Judge Butzner) affirmed the district court's decision. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Flaherty, 902 F.2d 250 (4th Cir. 1990). The defendants appealed. On October 29, 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Flaherty v. Thomas S., 498 U.S. 951 (1990).

Several years later, the defendants asked the court to narrow the plaintiff class to include only those "treated clinically as mentally retarded." The district court (Judge McMillan) declined to narrow the class in that manner, and the defendants appealed. On July 15, 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion affirming the district court's ruling. Thomas S. v. Flaherty, No. 93-1018, 1993 WL 264697 (4th Cir. 1993).

The parties continued to litigate regarding attorneys' fees, and on July 27, 1998, the district court closed the case.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (3/28/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Ervin, Samuel James III (North Carolina)

McMillan, James Bryan (North Carolina)

Murnaghan, Francis Dominic Jr. (Maryland)

Voorhees, Richard Lesley (North Carolina)

Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyles, Scott (North Carolina)

Brooks, Joyce Murphy (North Carolina)

Connette, Edward G. III (North Carolina)

Fillette, Theodore O. III (North Carolina)

Judge(s)

Butzner, John Decker Jr. (Virginia)

Ervin, Samuel James III (North Carolina)

McMillan, James Bryan (North Carolina)

Murnaghan, Francis Dominic Jr. (Maryland)

Voorhees, Richard Lesley (North Carolina)

Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Boyles, Scott (North Carolina)

Brooks, Joyce Murphy (North Carolina)

Connette, Edward G. III (North Carolina)

Fillette, Theodore O. III (North Carolina)

Greenblatt, Deborah (North Carolina)

Heinberg, Christine (North Carolina)

Manus, Roger (North Carolina)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Ambrose, Bruce S. (North Carolina)

Broome, Dennis L. (North Carolina)

Easley, Michael F. (North Carolina)

Gage, Robert H. (North Carolina)

Hargett, Robert T. (North Carolina)

Hayman, Wilson (North Carolina)

Holton, Doris J. (North Carolina)

McPherson, Michelle B. (North Carolina)

O'Connell, William F. (North Carolina)

Oliver, Jane Leigh (North Carolina)

Parker, David McLean (North Carolina)

Pomper, Diane Martin (North Carolina)

Rosenthal, Cathy J. (North Carolina)

Smith, Walter M. (North Carolina)

Stevens, Catherine C. (North Carolina)

Thornburg, Lacy Herman (North Carolina)

Trepel, Jeff (North Carolina)

Watkins, Reginald (North Carolina)

Wilder, Raboteau T. Jr. (North Carolina)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

3:82-cv-00418

Docket (PACER)

Thomas S. v. Britt

Aug. 13, 1998

Aug. 13, 1998

Docket

3:82-cv-00418

Order

Thomas S. v. Morrow

601 F.Supp. 1055

Sept. 18, 1984

Sept. 18, 1984

Order/Opinion

84-02254

84-02255

Reported Opinion

Thomas S. v. Morrow

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

781 F.2d 367

Feb. 19, 1986

Feb. 19, 1986

Order/Opinion

85-01590

[Untitled]

Kirk v. Thomas S.

Supreme Court of the United States

476 U.S. 1124, 90 L.Ed.2d 673

May 19, 1986

May 19, 1986

Order/Opinion

3:82-cv-00418

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

699 F.Supp. 1178

Nov. 21, 1988

Nov. 21, 1988

Order/Opinion

89-01006

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

902 F.2d 250

May 23, 1990

May 23, 1990

Order/Opinion

90-00366

Memorandum Decision

Flaherty v. Thomas S.

Supreme Court of the United States

498 U.S. 951, 111 S.Ct. 373, 112 L.Ed.2d 335

Oct. 29, 1990

Oct. 29, 1990

Order/Opinion

93-01018

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

998 F.2d 1010, 1993 WL 264697

July 15, 1993

July 15, 1993

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated July 20, 2022, 3:10 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: North Carolina

Case Type(s):

Intellectual Disability (Facility)

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 7, 1982

Closing Date: 1998

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

mentally retarded wards of the State of North Carolina

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Broughton Hospital (Raleigh, Wake), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1984 - 1998

Issues

General:

Classification / placement

Habilitation (training/treatment)

Individualized planning

Restraints : chemical

Restraints : physical

Disability:

Integrated setting

Mental Disability:

Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified

Schizophrenia

Medical/Mental Health:

Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Non-government for profit