Case: U.S. v. Vermont

2:06-cv-00143 | U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont

Filed Date: July 21, 2006

Closed Date: 2010

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 5, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent its "findings letter" to Vermont's governor, advising him of the results of the late summer 2004, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the Vermont State Hospital ("VSH"), a facility housing mentally ill persons. The investigation occurred under the authority of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. DOJ and expert consultants visited the facility, reviewed a…

On July 5, 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent its "findings letter" to Vermont's governor, advising him of the results of the late summer 2004, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the Vermont State Hospital ("VSH"), a facility housing mentally ill persons. The investigation occurred under the authority of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. DOJ and expert consultants visited the facility, reviewed a wide array of documents there, and conducted interviews with personnel and residents. The letter commended VSH 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 deficiencies in patient care at VSH, in that conditions and services at VSH substantially departed from generally accepted standards of care. Constitutional and federal statutory rights of patients at VSH were violated in several respects, according to the DOJ.

DOJ concluded that deficiencies in conditions of patient care and treatment at VSH existed as to three topic areas, including VSH's: (1) failure to protect patients from harm and undue restraints (e.g., inadequate suicide prevention measures; use of seclusion and restraints for staff convenience and initial punishment, rather than in patients' best interests; excessive duration and failure to document use of seclusion and restraints); (2) failure to provide adequate psychiatric and psychological services (inadequate and dated treatment planning, psychiatric and psychological assessments and diagnoses; poor medication management and monitoring; rudimentary or non-existent behavior plans) and (3) failure to ensure adequate discharge planning and placement in the most integrated setting appropriate to each patient's individualized needs (e.g., failure to initiate, maintain, monitor, or adjust adequate discharge criteria or to maintain an adequate utilization review process necessary to ensure appropriate lengths of stay). The letter provided details of deficiencies for all three of these categories. Moreover, the findings letter stated that these shortcomings were at times historical problems, rather than sporadic recent failures.

Minimally-acceptable remedial measures for each of these categories were outlined in the letter, which concluded by inviting continued further collaboration in implementing the remediation and by providing notice that, absent a resolution of federal concerns, the DOJ would file a CRIPA lawsuit to compel correction of the identified deficiencies at VSH.

On July 21, 2006, DOJ simultaneously filed both a CRIPA complaint against Vermont and a consent judgment between the parties, the latter setting out an agreed-upon settlement including obligations by the state to implement the remedial measures set out in the findings letter. The lawsuit set out that the state's practices at VSH violated its' patients' Fourteenth Amendment due process rights and their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C § 12101 et seq., and the ADA's implementing regulations, 28 C.F.R. Part 35.

The settlement obligated the state to ensure (depending on the component of the plan, within six, eighteen, twenty-four, or thirty months) improvements that would bring the facility up to generally accepted professional standards of care, including integrated treatment planning, adequate and complete mental health assessments, and improved discharge planning and community integration. The settlement also set out time frames for psychiatric, psychological, and pharmacy services improvements, documentation improvements, and implementation of modern practices in the use at VSH of restraints, seclusion and emergency use of psychotropic medications, as well as reporting and supervision measures to provide protection from harm and adoption of an integrated incident management system. Improvement in quality assurance and environmental conditions were also mandated by the agreement. The parties' settlement appointed Mohamed El-Saabawi and Jeffrey Geller as jointly-selected experts to monitor the implementation of the agreement, with the federal and state governments, respectively, paying each monitor's reasonable costs and expenses. Every six months, the monitors would produce to the parties a joint report on compliance. The agreement would terminate in four years, unless earlier compliance could be established. District Judge William K. Sessions III approved the settlement and issued a conditional dismissal of the case on July 31, 2006.

Shortly before the settlement agreement was set to expire, the parties agreed to extend the term of the agreement from July to October 2010 in order to continue working together to address conditions at the hospital. Following the parties' Joint Motion for Final Dismissal, on October 28th, 2010, the court dismissed the case with prejudice.

Summary Authors

Elizabeth Daligga (7/20/2012)

People


Judge(s)

Sessions, William K. III (Vermont)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Gonzales, Alberto (District of Columbia)

Keyser, Linda L. (District of Columbia)

Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)

Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)

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

Ross, Heather E. (Vermont)

Schlozman, Bradley (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Beinner, Wendy (Vermont)

Judge(s)

Sessions, William K. III (Vermont)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Gonzales, Alberto (District of Columbia)

Keyser, Linda L. (District of Columbia)

Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)

Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)

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

Ross, Heather E. (Vermont)

Schlozman, Bradley (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Beinner, Wendy (Vermont)

Jones, Keith M (Vermont)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:06-cv-00143

Docket (PACER)

United States v. Vermont

Oct. 29, 2010

Oct. 29, 2010

Docket

2:06-cv-00143

CRIPA Investigation of the Vermont State Hospital, Waterbury, Vermont

DOJ CRIPA Investigation of the Vermont State Hospital, Waterbury, Vermont

No Court

July 5, 2005

July 5, 2005

Findings Letter/Report
1

2:06-cv-00143

Complaint

United States v. Vermont

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

Complaint
3

2:06-cv-00143

Settlement Agreement

United States v. Vermont

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

Settlement Agreement
15

2:06-cv-00143

Notice of Extension/Amendment to the Settlement Agreement

United States v. Vermont

July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010

Settlement Agreement
17

2:06-cv-00143

Order of Final Dismissal with Prejudice Pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

United States v. Vermont

Oct. 29, 2010

Oct. 29, 2010

Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated Aug. 30, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against all defendants filed by United States of America. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(jse, ) (Entered: 07/21/2006)

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

2

JOINT MOTION for Conditional Dismissal Pursuant to Rule 41 (a)(2) of FRCP by United States of America and State of Vermont, et al. (Attachments: # 1 Text of

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

4

MOTION for Admission of Linda L. Keyser Pro Hac Vice by United States of America. (jse) Additional attachment(s) added on 7/21/2006 (jse, ). (Entered: 07/21/2006)

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

5

AFFIDAVIT of Linda L. Keyser, Esq. re: 4 MOTION for Appearance Pro Hac Vice by United States of America.(jse) (Entered: 07/21/2006)

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

6

MOTION for Admission of William G. Maddox Pro Hac Vice by United States of America. (jse) Additional attachment(s) added on 7/21/2006 (jse, ). (Entered: 07/21/2006)

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

7

AFFIDAVIT of William G. Maddox, Esq. re: 6 MOTION for Appearance Pro Hac Vice by United States of America.(jse) (Entered: 07/21/2006)

July 21, 2006

July 21, 2006

8

ORDER granting 4 Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice . Signed by Judge William K. Sessions III on 7/25/06. (jam, ) (Entered: 07/25/2006)

July 25, 2006

July 25, 2006

9

ORDER granting 6 Motion for Admission Pro Hac Vice . Signed by Judge William K. Sessions III on 7/25/06. Cy sent to non−NEF parties (jam, ) (Entered: 07/25/2006)

July 25, 2006

July 25, 2006

10

ORDER OF CONDITIONAL DISMISSAL PURSUANT TO RULE 41(a)(2) FRCP granting 2 Motion to Dismiss . Signed by Judge William K. Sessions III on 7/31/06. Cy to non−NEF parties (jam, ) (Entered: 07/31/2006)

July 31, 2006

July 31, 2006

11

WAIVER OF SERVICE Returned Executed by United States of America. Paul Jarris, Paul Blake, Terry Rowe, State of Vermont, James H. Douglas, and Cynthia D. LaWare waivers sent on 7/21/2006, answers due 9/19/2006. (jlh) (Entered: 08/01/2006)

Aug. 1, 2006

Aug. 1, 2006

12

Mail Returned as Undeliverable as to William Maddox, Esq. re: 10 Order on Motion to Dismiss. (jse) (Entered: 08/17/2006)

Aug. 16, 2006

Aug. 16, 2006

13

Mail Returned as Undeliverable as to Linda L. Keyser, Esq. re: 10 Order on Motion to Dismiss. (jse) (Entered: 08/17/2006)

Aug. 16, 2006

Aug. 16, 2006

14

NOTICE OF APPEARANCE by Keith M. Jones on behalf of Paul Blake, James H. Douglas, Paul Jarris, Cynthia D. LaWare, Terry Rowe, and State of Vermont. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service)(Jones, Keith) Text clarified on 7/16/2010 (jlh). (Entered: 07/15/2010)

July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010

15

NOTICE of Extension/Amendment of the Settlement Agreement by Paul Blake, James H. Douglas, Paul Jarris, Cynthia D. LaWare, Terry Rowe, State of Vermont, United States of America. (Attachments: # 1 Settlement Agreement)(Jones, Keith) Text clarified on 7/16/2010 (jlh). (Entered: 07/15/2010)

July 15, 2010

July 15, 2010

16

JOINT MOTION to Dismiss with Prejudice by Paul Blake, James H. Douglas, Paul Jarris, Cynthia D. LaWare, Terry Rowe, State of Vermont, United States of America. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Jones, Keith) (Entered: 10/26/2010)

Oct. 26, 2010

Oct. 26, 2010

17

ORDER OF FINAL DISMISSAL granting 16 JOINT MOTION to Dismiss with Prejudice. Signed by Judge William K. Sessions III on 10/28/2010. (law) (Entered: 10/31/2010)

Oct. 29, 2010

Oct. 29, 2010

Case Details

State / Territory: Vermont

Case Type(s):

Mental Health (Facility)

Special Collection(s):

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 21, 2006

Closing Date: 2010

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

U.S. Department of Justice (on behalf of individuals housed in Vermont State 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

State of Vermont, State

Defendant Type(s):

Hospital/Health Department

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: 2006 - 2010

Issues

General:

Confinement/isolation

Habilitation (training/treatment)

Individualized planning

Informed consent/involuntary medication

Restraints : physical

Disability:

Integrated setting

Least restrictive environment

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Medication, administration of

Mental health care, general

Suicide prevention

Type of Facility:

Government-run