Case: Dixon v. Weinberger

1:74-cv-00285 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: April 8, 1986

Closed Date: March 30, 2014

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In 1974, patients confined at the Federal Mental Institution (FMI) in the District of Columbia filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs filed under the Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill Act (HMIA), 21 D.C. Code §501, against the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Mental Health Law Project, asked the court for a declaration of the following: 1) that they had a right to…

In 1974, patients confined at the Federal Mental Institution (FMI) in the District of Columbia filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs filed under the Hospitalization of the Mentally Ill Act (HMIA), 21 D.C. Code §501, against the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs, represented by the Center for Law and Social Policy and the Mental Health Law Project, asked the court for a declaration of the following: 1) that they had a right to treatment at facilities outside the FMI where such placement was determined to be consistent with the rehabilitative purposes of the HMIA; 2) that the District of Columbia and the federal government had a joint duty to provide for such treatment where appropriate; and 3) that this duty had been breached because there were numerous individuals in the hospital who had been determined to be in need of placement in such outside facilities, but who had been denied such placement.

On December 23, 1975, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judge Aubrey E. Robinson, Jr.) granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiffs, holding: 1) that the plaintiffs had the right to the treatment in question where the institution had determined that such treatment was appropriate; 2) that the primary responsibility for exploring and providing alternative facilities at the commitment level rested upon the District of Columbia; 3) and that the District of Columbia and the federal government would bear the joint responsibility for provision of alternative facilities for individuals who were still in need of psychiatric care despite their readiness for placement in alternative facilities. Dixon v. Weinberger, 405 F.Supp. 974 (D.D.C. 1975).

In 1980, the District Court entered a Consent Order and Final Plan to implement the findings of its 1975 decision. The Plan had a target completion date of 1985, but the defendants were unable to meet their obligations under it. After extended negotiations, the parties agreed upon a Service Development Plan, which was incorporated into another Consent Order of the Court on January 27, 1992.

In early 1993, the plaintiffs asked the court to hold the defendants in contempt for failure to meet the terms of the 1992 Consent Order. On May 14, 1993, the District Court (Judge Robinson) held that the defendants' failure stemmed from inability, rather than unwillingness, to meet the terms of the 1992 Order. To ensure progress, the Court appointed Dr. Danna Mauch as Special Master to monitor and report on implementation of the 1992 Consent Order. Dixon v. Kelly, No. 74-285, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6511 (D.D.C., May 14, 1993).

In 1996, the plaintiffs asked the District Court to appoint a Receiver over the District of Columbia Commission on Mental Health Services (CMHS) due to repeated failures of defendants to comply with the Court's orders. On June 13, 1997, the District Court granted the request and approved the appointment of a Receiver. Dixon v. Barry, 967 F.Supp. 535 (D.D.C. 1997). On September 11, 1997, appointed Scott H. Nelson as the Receiver to administer the CMHS in accordance with its June 13, 1997 Order. The Court also terminated the duties of Special Master Mauch. The Receiver administered the operation of the CMHS until 2000.

On March 6, 2000, the District Court (Judge Thomas F. Hogan) entered a Consent Order which reflected the agreement of the parties as to the process by which to terminate the receivership and return the day-to-day operation of the mental health system to the District of Columbia. The District Court appointed Dennis R. Jones to act as Transitional Receiver.

The Transactional Receiver submitted a plan to the Court for the implementation of compliance with the various orders and decrees of the District Court. That plan called for the creation of a separate Department of Mental Health which would set mental health policy for D.C., certify and license mental health institutions and operate a hospital and core service agency. The District Court (Chief Judge Norma H. Johnson) approved the plan of the Transactional Receiver on April 2, 2001.

On May 23, 2002, the District Court entered an order terminating the receivership. The Court ordered that the former Transactional Receiver Dennis R. Jones be appointed as Monitor to ensure the defendants' compliance with the April 2, 2001 Plan.

On December 12, 2003 the parties agreed to a consent order that established 19 exit criteria that the Defendants were to seek to substantially comply with. The parties further agreed that once the District of Columbia substantially complied with each of the 19 criteria, the litigation was to be dismissed.

On September 4, 2009 the Defendant District of Columbia filled a motion to vacate the December 12, 2003 Consent Order and dismiss the litigation. The District of Columbia argued that it had remedied the statutory violation that had given rise to the Consent Order. Furthermore, the District argued that it had remedied the original systematic violations and had faced a "change in circumstances" recognized by the Supreme Court in Horne v. Flores, 129 S. Ct. 2579, 2593 (2009) which makes the continued enforcement of the Consent Decree inequitable. Lastly, the District of Columbia argued that it had substantially complied with the exit criteria established by the Court in 2003. From the date of the 2003 Consent Order, the District had filled 14 monitoring reports with the court detailing its progress substantially complying with the 19 exit criteria. As of the date of the motion, the Court monitor had moved 6 exit criteria to inactive status, and had found the district had made notable progress in regard to 6 additional exit criteria. Taken together, this progress, the District argued, rendered it in substantial compliance with the exit criteria established by the Court in the December 12, 2003 Consent Decree.

According to the Court Monitor's July 26, 2011 report to the court, the District of Columbia had complied with 14 of the 19 exit criteria. However, the Court did not act on Defendant's motion.

Instead, on September 8, 2011, the parties reached another class-action settlement agreement settling all remaining claims. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement. On February 16, 2012, the court approved the consent decree. The agreement would terminate on March 30, 2014, unless an enforcement action was filed before then. No enforcement action were filed and the case was finally closed in 2014.

Summary Authors

Justin Benson (8/31/2011)

Jessica Kincaid (2/13/2016)

People


Judge(s)

Hogan, Thomas Francis (District of Columbia)

Johnson, Norma Holloway (District of Columbia)

Robinson, Aubrey Eugene Jr. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Burke, Susan L. (District of Columbia)

Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)

Gonzalez, Iris Y. (District of Columbia)

Heineman, Benjamin W. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Herman, Anthony (District of Columbia)

King, Erika Fisher (District of Columbia)

Lynch, Mark H. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Hogan, Thomas Francis (District of Columbia)

Johnson, Norma Holloway (District of Columbia)

Robinson, Aubrey Eugene Jr. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Burke, Susan L. (District of Columbia)

Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)

Gonzalez, Iris Y. (District of Columbia)

Heineman, Benjamin W. Jr. (District of Columbia)

Herman, Anthony (District of Columbia)

King, Erika Fisher (District of Columbia)

Lynch, Mark H. (District of Columbia)

Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)

Pratter, Virginia Paige (Washington)

Rose, Marilyn (District of Columbia)

Rubenstein, Leonard S. (District of Columbia)

Wald, Patricia McGowan (District of Columbia)

Whitfield, Jennifer Reid (District of Columbia)

Yeo, Matthew S. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Adams, Eugene A. III (District of Columbia)

Dodge, John D (District of Columbia)

Efros, Ellen A. (District of Columbia)

Gondelman, Richard F. (District of Columbia)

Graham, Grace (District of Columbia)

Lopes, Grace Michele (District of Columbia)

Maher, Janet L. (District of Columbia)

Nathan, Irvin B (District of Columbia)

Norman, David L. (District of Columbia)

Reilly, Peter R. (District of Columbia)

Rezneck, Daniel A. (District of Columbia)

Sapp, Tonya Ann (District of Columbia)

Sturtz, Anne M. (District of Columbia)

Suda, John H. (District of Columbia)

Sulkowski, Sarah Ann (District of Columbia)

Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Duncan, Robert Bruce (District of Columbia)

Kuder, Armin U. (District of Columbia)

Seifert, Alan L. (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Jones, Dennis R. (District of Columbia)

Pistilli, Christian James (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:74-cv-00285

Docket (PACER)

Dixon v. Fenty

July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

Docket

1:74-cv-00285

Opinion

405 F.Supp. 974

Dec. 23, 1975

Dec. 23, 1975

Order/Opinion

1:74-cv-00285

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law

Dixon v. Kelly

1993 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6511

May 14, 1993

May 14, 1993

Order/Opinion
105

1:74-cv-00285

Memorandum Opinion

Dixon v. Barry

967 F.Supp. 535

June 13, 1997

June 13, 1997

Order/Opinion
143

1:74-cv-00285

Order

Dixon v. Williams

March 6, 2000

March 6, 2000

Settlement Agreement
161

1:74-cv-00285

Memorandum and Order

Dixon v. Williams

March 28, 2001

March 28, 2001

Order/Opinion
208

1:74-cv-00285

Consent Order Terminating and Vacating Receivership Prospectively, Appointing Monitor and Approving Agreed Exit Criteria

Dixon v. Williams

May 22, 2002

May 22, 2002

Settlement Agreement
242

1:74-cv-00285

Consent Order Approving Agreed Exist Criteria With Measuring Methodology and Performance Levels

Dixon v. Williams

Dec. 12, 2003

Dec. 12, 2003

Settlement Agreement
265

1:74-cv-00285

Consent Order

Dixon v. Williams

Nov. 16, 2006

Nov. 16, 2006

Settlement Agreement
295-1

1:74-cv-00285

Status Report of Defendants Regarding Court Monitor Recommendations

Dixon v. Williams

No Court

Jan. 4, 2007

Jan. 4, 2007

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 8, 2022, 3:20 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Mental Health (Facility)

Special Collection(s):

Court-ordered receiverships

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 8, 1986

Closing Date: March 30, 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Patients confined at the Federal Mental Institution (FMI) in the District of Columbia

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Bazelon Center

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

District of Columbia (District of Columbia), Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

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:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1975 - 2014

Content of Injunction:

Monitoring

Monitor/Master

Receivership

Reporting

Issues

General:

Classification / placement

Commitment procedure

Deinstitutionalization/decarceration

Medical/Mental Health:

Mental health care, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run