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Case Name Doe v. Hudspeth ID-MS-0003
Docket / Court 75-36 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Case Summary
On February 11, 1975, individuals who were incarcerated at an institution called the Central Mississippi Retardation Center (the “Center”) brought this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Center and directors of the Board of Mental ... read more >
On February 11, 1975, individuals who were incarcerated at an institution called the Central Mississippi Retardation Center (the “Center”) brought this class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi against the Center and directors of the Board of Mental Health, Department of Mental Health, and State Hospital for the state of Mississippi. The plaintiffs, represented by a local community legal services group, sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The Center housed hundreds of individuals as inmates (many of whom were children) and failed to provide them with adequate care and habilitation. According to the complaint, the Center had failed to ever be accredited by either of the two nationally recognized bodies that evaluate and accredit facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities; as a result the Center was ineligible to receive federal financial assistance. The complaint listed a wide array of substandard conditions including: minimal sunlight, fire hazards, almost no furniture, inadequate ventilation, understaffing, no formal habilitation programs, and heavily restricted visiting hours. Furthermore, the plaintiffs alleged that the Center failed to separate inmates by age or by condition and required some inmates to perform labor without compensation.

The Plaintiffs argued (1) that these substandard conditions amounted to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and (2) that because the Defendants had both deprived the Plaintiffs of their right to treatment and habilitation and deprived them of an opportunity to challenge the conditions of their confinement, the Defendants had violated their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that the Defendants had violated their rights, a permanent injunction to prevent the Defendants from continuing to operate the Center unless it conformed to Constitutional standards, and class certification as “of all persons who are presently or may in the future be incarcerated in the Central Mississippi Retardation Center.” The case was assigned to Judge William Harold Cox.

In March 1975 the Plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order (TRO) for one of the class action representative plaintiffs. According to the complaint, this plaintiff—an inmate admitted at age 15—had never received any education services despite repeated requests, had no supervised activities and was forced to spend his days wandering from ward to ward, was required to work for minimal compensation, and was transferred to the maximum security unit of the Mississippi State Mental Hospital (as a punishment for fighting) without notice of the charges against him or an opportunity to challenge his transfer. On April 1, 1975, the Court granted the TRO for the duration of the litigation. Although the text of the restraining order is unavailable, it likely addressed these conditions. On the same day, the Court also granted class action certification.

The case proceeded to discovery, and in November 1975 the Court granted a motion filed by the Mississippi Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc. for leave to participate as Amicus Curiae in the lawsuit. On February 18, 1977, the parties filed a joint motion for continuance with a memorandum of understanding. Because the Defendants agreed to make significant improvements to the Center that would moot or substantially narrow the issues, the Plaintiffs agreed to postpone the litigation. Specifically, the Defendants agreed in the memorandum to:
1. Implement food and nutrition recommendations made by a consultant;
2. Hire a full time physical therapist and obtain necessary equipment;
3. Hire a full-time pharmacist and follow an individual prescription method of administering medication;
4. Create and implement full-day developmental programming for residents and review/revise habilitation plans for residents at least every six months;
5. Hire a full-time speech therapist; and
6. Maintain and make available the medical records of residents and provide written evidence of the need for transfer before transferring a resident to another facility;
On May 29, 1980, the Court dismissed the case without prejudice. While there is no opinion available, the parties filed a joint motion for dismissal. So it appears that the Defendants took the actions required by the memorandum of understanding. The case is closed.

Sara Stearns - 05/12/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Hospital/Health Department
Mental impairment
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Placement in mental health facilities
Recreation / Exercise
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Central Mississippi Retardation Center
Mississippi State Board of Mental Health
Mississippi State Department of Mental Health
Mississippi State Hospital
Plaintiff Description Persons who were incarcerated at a facility in Central Mississippi
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 02/11/1975
Case Closing Year 1980
Case Ongoing No
Court Docket(s)
S.D. Miss.
ID-MS-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
General Documents
S.D. Miss.
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
ID-MS-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
S.D. Miss.
Memorandum of Understanding
ID-MS-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
S.D. Miss.
Joint Motion for Continuance
ID-MS-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
S.D. Miss.
Order [With Judgment of Dismissal]
ID-MS-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berzon, Stephen P. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Edelman, Marion Wright (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Goode, Steven (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0003 | ID-MS-0003-0004
Levinson, Sanford V. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Michaels, David Seth (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0001 | ID-MS-0003-9000
Powell, Barry H. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0001 | ID-MS-0003-9000
Trister, Michael B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0001 | ID-MS-0003-0003 | ID-MS-0003-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Brantley, James P. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0003 | ID-MS-0003-0004
Hancock, Timmie (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0003 | ID-MS-0003-0004
Snyder, Edwin A. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
ID-MS-0003-0003 | ID-MS-0003-0004 | ID-MS-0003-9000
Other Lawyers Owen, Ben L. (Mississippi) show/hide docs

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