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Case Name Baker v. DesLauriers MH-KS-0001
Docket / Court 6:14-cv-01356 ( D. Kan. )
State/Territory Kansas
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On October 27, 2014, twenty-five former prisoners forced to enroll in Kansas's Sexual Predator Treatment Program after their release from prison filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs sued directors of the Sexual Predator Treatment Program (SPTP), ... read more >
On October 27, 2014, twenty-five former prisoners forced to enroll in Kansas's Sexual Predator Treatment Program after their release from prison filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs sued directors of the Sexual Predator Treatment Program (SPTP), Larned State Hospital, the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, and the State of Kansas under 42 U.S.C § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Kansas state law. Representing themselves, the plaintiffs asked for declaratory and injunctive relief along with monetary damages. In their claim for relief, they cited violations of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, along with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and Kansas state law (K.S.A. § 59-29a22(b)(3)).

More specifically, the plaintiffs argued in a 314-page complaint that the SPTP is, in both design and in application, a source of punishment rather than therapy, and that it violated laws designed to protect recipients of therapy and constitutional prohibitions against ex post facto punishment and double jeopardy. They alleged that the program was in many ways equivalent to or in some instances worse than prison in the restrictions that it imposed and in the conditions to which it subjected enrollees.

The case was initially assigned to District Judge Sam A. Crow. On January 27, 2015, the case was reassigned to District Judge Eric F. Melgren. The next day, it was again reassigned, this time to Chief Judge J. Thomas Marten.

The plaintiffs sought appointment of counsel. Magistrate Judge Karen Humphreys granted the motion on February 9, 2015 but deferred selection of counsel until the court could learn more about what sorts of experience appointed counsel would need. In particular, Judge Humphreys noted that similar litigation was underway in Illinois (Hargett v. Adams), Minnesota (Karsjens v. Jesson), Missouri (Van Orden v. Healthlink), New Jersey (Alves v. Main), and Washington (Turay v. Seling) and consulted lawyers involved in the Missouri case for advice. Judge Humphreys retired in June 2015 while the stay was still in place and the case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Kenneth G. Gale on June 11, 2015.

On November 12, 2015, one of the plaintiffs wrote a letter to Judge Marten and Judge Gale. The letter noted that trials in both the Minnesota and Missouri cases had ended, and their respective SVP programs had been found unconstitutional. Because the trials had ended and Judge Humphreys had retired, the plaintiff argued, the stay should be lifted and the case allowed to proceed. On January 7, 2016, another plaintiff sent the court clerk a handwritten note and attached the Missouri court decision to encourage the court to lift the stay. On March 31, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for stay to be lifted, but Judge Gale denied the motion on April 4, 2016. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45574. Judge Gale emphasized that he was actively working to find counsel but had not been successful because of the large amount of uncompensated work that would be required of any appointed counsel. Judge Gale reiterated that the Plaintiffs could not adequately represent themselves and asked for their patience while the search continued. On August 2, 2016, the Court appointed seven pro bono lawyers to represent the plaintiffs and lifted the stay. Judge Gale ordered the plaintiffs to stop communicating with the Court or the defendants unless done through counsel. The original complaint and summons had not been served on defendants at the time counsel was appointed.

On December 5, 2016, the plaintiffs (now through counsel) filed an amended complaint with substantial changes. The plaintiffs re-alleged that the Kansas SPTP was an unconstitutional punishment system, rather than a therapy program. Specifically, they alleged that there was no realistic possibility of ever completing the program and being released from its requirements - of the hundreds committed under SPTP, only three had successfully completed the program. The program was alleged to be inadequate because it failed to tailor treatment to the needs of the detainees. The plaintiffs also alleged that treatment hours had been cut, the facilities were overcrowded, and the employee turnover was so high as to compromise the treatment of detainees. The move from one phase of the program to another was often based on arbitrary or non-therapeutic considerations, like bed availability. The facilities were also managed like a prison, using Kansas Department of Corrections protocols. All of these factors, when combined, made SPTP an essentially lifelong commitment in a secure facility. The plaintiffs alleged that these conditions meant SPTP violated the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause.

On December 29, 2016, one plaintiff moved to separate from the class. Judge Gale granted his motion and declared the case would be treated as a consolidated case, with the original complaint applying to this plaintiff and the amended complaint applying to the class action. The separate plaintiff then moved to certify the class under the original complaint and asked for separate counsel to be appointed for his case on February 23, 2017. He expressed that appointed counsel for the amended complaint did not have the “best interests” of the class in mind. On March 2, 2017, Judge Gale denied the motion to appoint replacement counsel, citing the fact that able and competent counsel had already been appointed.

On February 24, 2017, the defendants moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The defendants argued that the state has discretion to design treatment programs for sexually violent predators and had not abused that discretion in creating the SPTP. The plaintiffs disagreed with the treatment they had received, the defendants argued, but that treatment was within the bounds of professional judgment and not enough to make out a constitutional violation.

On July 17, 2017, the Court granted the motion to dismiss. Specifically, Judge Marten found that the plaintiffs had failed to adequately allege how the SPTP program deviated from accepted standards of treatment in a way that violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights. Judge Marten also ruled that the conditions of the SPTP facilities were related to the reasons for detaining the plaintiffs and, thus, did not violate the plaintiffs’ due process rights. Because of this dismissal, the separate plaintiff’s motion to certify the original complaint class was denied as moot. On August 14, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal, arguing that the court had committed legal error by failing to take judicial notice of a 2015 Kansas report on SPTP. In the alternative, the plaintiffs asked for leave to file an amended complaint that did state a claim. Two months later, on November 14, 2017, Judge Marten denied this motion. Judge Marten found that consideration of the 2015 Report would not have changed his ruling that the complaint did not state a claim. The plaintiffs attached a proposed second amended complaint to their motion for reconsideration, which Judge Marten reviewed and found similarly deficient. Judge Marten decided that amending the complaint would be futile and dismissed the case with prejudice.

For a discussion of SPTP, written after the complaint in this case was filed, see this Kansas City Star article.

Ryan Berry - 05/18/2016
Lisa Koo - 03/03/2019
Olivia Wheeling - 11/14/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Hospital/Health Department
Mental impairment
Classification / placement
Commitment procedure
Conditions of confinement
Discharge & termination plans
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Reassessment and care planning
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex offender regulation
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Clinical Program Director
Interim Secretary
Plaintiff Description Persons released from prison but civilly committed to the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Denied
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 10/27/2014
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Twenty Years after Kansas v. Hendricks: Reforming the Kansas Sexual Predator Treatment Program Is Crucial to the Future of the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act
Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy
Date: Fall 2016
By: Justine T. Koehle (University of Kansas School of Law Student)
Citation: 26 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y 1-23
[ Detail ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Kan.
MH-KS-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Kan.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
MH-KS-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
Denial of Motion To Lift Stay [ECF# 46]
MH-KS-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
Order [Granting motion to appoint counsel] [ECF# 36]
MH-KS-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 62]
MH-KS-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 87] (2017 WL 3026143)
MH-KS-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Kan.
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 92] (2017 WL 5465530)
MH-KS-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Gale, Kenneth G (D. Kan.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
MH-KS-0001-0002 | MH-KS-0001-0003 | MH-KS-0001-9000
Marten, John Thomas (D. Kan.) show/hide docs
MH-KS-0001-0005 | MH-KS-0001-0006 | MH-KS-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Elliott, Nathan (Kansas) show/hide docs
Graybill, Jacob S (Kansas) show/hide docs
Hazlewood, N Russel (Kansas) show/hide docs
Kiefer, Mark D (Kansas) show/hide docs
McGivern, Sean M (Kansas) show/hide docs
Peterson, Donald N II (Kansas) show/hide docs
MH-KS-0001-0004 | MH-KS-0001-9000
Rathbun, Randall K (Kansas) show/hide docs
MH-KS-0001-0004 | MH-KS-0001-9000
Schremmer, Joseph A (Kansas) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Barney, Carrie A (Kansas) show/hide docs
Qualseth, Shon D. (Kansas) show/hide docs

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