Case: U.S. v. District of Columbia

1:07-cv-00889 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: May 11, 2007

Closed Date: 2014

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 23, 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent its "findings letter" to the District of Columbia's mayor, advising him of the results of the June 2005, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a District facility having approximately fifteen buildings housing adults with acute, long-term mental health needs and forensic needs. The investigation occurred under the authority of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Person…

On May 23, 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent its "findings letter" to the District of Columbia's mayor, advising him of the results of the June 2005, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the St. Elizabeth's Hospital, a District facility having approximately fifteen buildings housing adults with acute, long-term mental health needs and forensic needs. The investigation occurred under the authority of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. According to the letter, DOJ and expert consultants visited the facility, reviewed a wide array of documents there, and conducted interviews with personnel and residents. The letter commended St. Elizabeth's staff for providing a high level of cooperation during the investigation, as well as the dedication many showed for patient well-being. Nevertheless, the investigation found numerous deficiencies in patient care at St. Elizabeth's.

DOJ concluded that these deficiencies at St. Elizabeth's existed in four topic areas, including (1) protection from harm (e.g., assaults, elopements, suicides, over-reliance on seclusion, restraints, and psychotropic medications, inadequate risk management and quality assurance, environmental health and safety issues) (2) psychiatric and psychological care and treatment (e.g., inadequate treatment planning, assessments, diagnoses, and services), (3) medical and nursing care and treatment (e.g., poor symptom and medication documentation, inadequate infection control); and (4) discharge planning and placement in the most integrated setting. The letter provided details of deficiencies for all four of these categories.

The letter listed, at length, minimally-acceptable remedial measures for each of these categories. It invited continued collaboration toward resolving the deficiencies and alerted the District that, absent improvement, a CRIPA lawsuit would be filed to compel correction of the deficiencies and protection of St. Elizabeth's patients' rights.

The DOJ letter eventually resulted in cooperative resolution of the hospital's cited problems, at least on paper. District officials and the DOJ reached an agreement that became the basis of a consent judgment filed contemporaneously with a CRIPA complaint against the District. Via DOJ Civil Rights Division lawyers, on May 11, 2007, the United States filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia a CRIPA lawsuit against the District and its officials responsible for operation of St. Elizabeth's. The complaint alleged violations of the Fifth Amendment's due process clause and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C § 12101, and implementing regulations. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to end the substantial departures from generally accepted professional standards of care at the hospital in the multiple aspects mentioned in the findings letter.

Simultaneously, a settlement agreement was filed which set out detailed remedial measures that the District agreed to implement at St. Elizabeth's. The agreement also provided for the District to pay for a compliance officer to oversee and report (to the parties and hospital administration) on compliance with each of the agreement's provisions. Measured from the agreement's effective date, the agreement established 12, 18, 24, and 36-month time-frames for compliance, depending on the provision at issue. The District also agreed to submit to the United States a corrective action plan every four months and a status report every six months during the agreed-upon five-year period of court jurisdiction over the matter.

On October 26, 2011, the U.S. filed a modified settlement agreement, approved by the court, that commended the hospital for continuing to cooperate with the earlier agreement. The revised settlement provided for continuing jurisdiction. Following the successful implementation of the remaining provisions of the agreement, the case was dismissed in September 2014. However, the parties' joint motion to dismiss gave notice to the court that monitoring between St. Elizabeth's Hospital and University Legal Services would continue.

A separate case seeking similar injunctive and declaratory relief to improve conditions at St. Elizabeth's had been filed earlier in the same federal court by a protective and advocacy organization, represented both by private counsel and by the organization's counsel. See University Legal Services, Inc. v. St. Elizabeth's Hospital, no. 1:05-cv-00585-TFH-JMF. In that case, extensive discovery and motion practice preceded the CRIPA case's settlement and continued even after the July 27, 2007 CRIPA settlement.

Summary Authors

Elizabeth Daligga (7/19/2012)

Lauren Latterell Powell (11/8/2017)

People


Judge(s)

Hogan, Thomas Francis (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Clark, Mary Nell McGarity (District of Columbia)

Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)

Dorfman, Deborah A. (Washington)

Jung, Je Yon (District of Columbia)

Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)

Leung, Michelle (District of Columbia)

McNeil, W. Andrew (Georgia)

Moffat, Philip A. (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Hogan, Thomas Francis (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Clark, Mary Nell McGarity (District of Columbia)

Contreras, Rudolph (District of Columbia)

Dorfman, Deborah A. (Washington)

Jung, Je Yon (District of Columbia)

Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)

Leung, Michelle (District of Columbia)

McNeil, W. Andrew (Georgia)

Moffat, Philip A. (District of Columbia)

Preston, Judith (Judy) C. (District of Columbia)

Reeder, Lauren S. (District of Columbia)

Schneider, Richard A. (Georgia)

Thorner, Robin C. (District of Columbia)

Wojahn, Patrick L. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Caspari, Matthew W. (District of Columbia)

Efros, Ellen A. (District of Columbia)

Lynch, Nicole L. (District of Columbia)

Singer, Linda R. (District of Columbia)

Valentine, George C. (District of Columbia)

Other Attorney(s)

Herman, Anthony (District of Columbia)

Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Sept. 19, 2014 Docket

Re: CRIPA Investigation of St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D.C.

DOJ CRIPA Investigation of St. Elizabeths Hospital, Washington, D.C.

No Court

May 23, 2006 Findings Letter/Report
1

Complaint

May 11, 2007 Complaint
5

Settlement Agreement

May 11, 2007 Settlement Agreement
9

Modified Settlement Agreement

Oct. 26, 2011 Settlement Agreement
11

Order of Final Dismissal

United States v. District of Columbia

Sept. 19, 2014 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ADRIAN M. FENTY, STEPHEN T. BARON, PATRICK J. CANAVAN filed by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(lc, ) (Entered: 05/14/2007)

May 11, 2007
2

NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Case related to Case No. 05−585. (lc, ) (Entered: 05/14/2007)

May 11, 2007
3

Joint MOTION for Entry of Settlement Agreement by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Attachments: # 1 Settlement Agreement)(lc, ) (Entered: 05/14/2007)

May 11, 2007

SUMMONS Not Issued as to DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ADRIAN M. FENTY, STEPHEN T. BARON, PATRICK J. CANAVAN (lc, ) (Entered: 05/14/2007)

May 11, 2007

Summons Issued (4) as to DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ADRIAN M. FENTY, STEPHEN T. BARON, PATRICK J. CANAVAN. (ls, ) (Entered: 05/14/2007)

May 14, 2007

MINUTE ORDER scheduling a hearing to take place on Monday, June 25, 2007, at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 25A before Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan regarding 3 Joint Motion for Entry of Settlement Agreement filed by United States of America. Signed by Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan on June 11, 2007. (lctfh2) (Entered: 06/11/2007)

June 11, 2007
4

NOTICE of Appearance by Ellen A. Efros on behalf of all defendants (Efros, Ellen) (Entered: 06/12/2007)

June 12, 2007
5

ORDER granting [#3] Joint Motion for Entry of Settlement Agreement, Signed by Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan on 6/25/07. (Attachments: # 1 Settlement Agreement) (hs,) (Entered: 06/25/2007)

June 25, 2007

Minute Entry. Proceedings held before Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan : Status Conference held on 6/25/2007. (Court Reporter Cathryn Jones.) (hs,) (Entered: 07/03/2007)

July 3, 2007
6

NOTICE of Appearance by Michelle Lindsay Leung on behalf of UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Leung, Michelle) (Entered: 10/13/2011)

Oct. 13, 2011
8

ORDER granting 7 Motion to Modify Settlement Agreement. Signed by Judge Thomas F. Hogan on 10/20/11. (cp) (Entered: 10/26/2011)

Oct. 26, 2011
9

MODIFIED SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. (cp) (Entered: 10/26/2011)

Oct. 26, 2011
10

Joint MOTION for Order of Final Dismissal by UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Maddox, William) (Entered: 08/28/2014)

Aug. 28, 2014
11

ORDER OF FINAL DISMISSAL: Having considered the Parties Joint Motion For Order of Final Dismissal, it is hereby ordered that the Modified Settlement Agreement and its associated Order are terminated and this case is dismissed with prejudice. Further, the Court takes judicial notice of the Parties NOTICEOF CONTINUING MONITORING BETWEEN SAINT ELIZABETHS HOSPITAL ANDUNIVERSITY LEGAL SERVICES. Signed by Judge Thomas F. Hogan on 9/16/2014. (tcr) (Entered: 09/19/2014)

Sept. 19, 2014

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Mental Health (Facility)

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 11, 2007

Closing Date: 2014

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

U.S. Department of Justice (on behalf of persons institutionalized at St. Elizabeth's Hospital)

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

District of Columbia (District of Columbia), None

Department of Health (District of Columbia), None

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

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: 2007 - 2014

Content of Injunction:

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Monitor/Master

Monitoring

Reasonable Accommodation

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Issues

General:

Aggressive behavior

Classification / placement

Confinement/isolation

Fire safety

Habilitation (training/treatment)

Incident/accident reporting & investigations

Individualized planning

Neglect by staff

Restraints : chemical

Restraints : physical

Sanitation / living conditions

Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Totality of conditions

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

Integrated setting

Least restrictive environment

Mental impairment

Mental Disability:

Mental Illness, Unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Medication, administration of

Mental health care, general

Suicide prevention

Type of Facility:

Government-run