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Case Name U.S. v. Virginia ID-VA-0002
Docket / Court 96-283 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Case Summary
On May 4, 1990, the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division announced, in a letter to the Governor of Virginia, its intent to launch an investigation, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq., into conditions at the Northern ... read more >
On May 4, 1990, the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division announced, in a letter to the Governor of Virginia, its intent to launch an investigation, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq., into conditions at the Northern Virginia Training Center (NVTC), an institution for individuals with developmental disabilities in Fairfax, Virginia. Five experts from the Department of Justice toured the facility, reviewed policies and procedures, interviewed NVTC staff, and audited reporting and investigation practices.

On April 9, 1991, the Department of Justice announced its findings. The Department of Justice reported that the health and safety of people living at NVTC was at risk for a number of reasons. NVTC employed too few people and inadequately trained those it did employ, which placed residents in danger of unnecessary chemical and physical restraint. Often mechanical restraints were accompanied by seclusion, which was a fire hazard. Individualized programming for residents was inadequate and recordkeeping deficiencies made it impossible to monitor an individual's progress. In addition, NVTC's medical care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medication and side effect monitoring we all inadequate. In addition, NVTC provided insufficient medical care, including medication monitoring and occupational therapy. Recordkeeping made it difficult to track the efficacy of individualized programming and medical care. In closing, the Department of Justice expressed the desire to negotiate a resolution.

Negotiations did not make enough progress and, on May 31, 1994, the Department of Justice threatened to file a CRIPA lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of conditions at NVTC. In addition to its earlier concerns, the Department of Justice chronicled systematic abuse and neglect at NVTC. For instance, individualized training programs were so inadequate that individuals became seriously sick or died as the result of aggressive, pica, and other self-injurious behaviors. One resident asphyxiated on a rubber glove, while another ate a reported seven cigarettes and one feminine hygiene pad in the span of two days. Similarly, inappropriate feeding techniques and poor nutrition endangered residents' health.

Virginia may have made an effort engage in productive negotiations, but the Department of Justice was not satisfied. On February 8, 1995, the Department of Justice notified the Governor of Virginia that, in addition to being unconstitutional, the conditions at NVTC violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794, the Social Security Act ("Medicaid"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 1396 et seq., and Virginia law.

On March 4, 1996, the Department of Justice filed a CRIPA lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, challenging conditions at NVTC. The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to address (1) individualized programming, (2) undue physical restraint and isolation, (3) facility safety, (4) medical care, (5) physical and occupational therapy, (6) medication monitoring, especially for tardive dyskenesia, and (7) staff numbers and training.

On May 21, 1996, the court (Judge Leonie M. Brinkema) refused to consolidate this lawsuit with United States v. Virginia, No. 96-284, MH-VA-0002, an action challenging the constitutionality of conditions at a Virginia psychiatric hospital. On May 21, 1996, the court also granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, but stayed its ruling to allow for settlement. On July 18, 1996, the court approved a settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement itself was mostly concerned with procedural elements, such as development of a plan for improvement, compliance deadlines, evaluation, and dismissal. The NVTC plan describes the required compliance. The plan emphasizes the importance of trained staff in the provision of developmental disability services. The plan stated detailed training requirements for direct care staff and incorporated training into almost every solution. For instance, the plan mandated the dismissal of employees who neglected or abused residents. Similarly, the plan sought to reduce the need for restraints by both improving staff development and requiring the interdisciplinary treatment teams' advance approval for the type of restraints to be used for each individual. Thus, both chemical restraints and draconian physical restraint techniques, such as papoose boards, were eliminated. Similar clauses addressed medical care, medication administration and tracking, physical and occupational therapy, abuse and injury reporting and investigations, recordkeeping, functional planning, community placement, and quality assurance.

The parties modified the settlement on May 30, 1997. On August 29, 1997, the Department of Justice inspected NVTC and found it was in compliance with the plan. On June 3, 1998, the court dismissed the lawsuit.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 07/07/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Reassessment and care planning
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Social Security (Title XX), 42 U.S.C. § 1397 et seq.
Defendant(s) Northern Virginia Training Center
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 1996 - 1998
Filed 03/04/1996
Case Closing Year 1998
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing MH-VA-0002 : U.S. v. Virginia (E.D. Va.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities
U.S. Department of Justice
Date: 9/13/2021
By: Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Va.
ID-VA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Northern Virginia Training Center, Fairfax, Virginia
ID-VA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
not recorded
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Northern Virginia Training Center, Fairfax, Virginia
ID-VA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
not recorded
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Northern Virginia Training Center, Fairfax, Virginia
ID-VA-0002-0003.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Departmental Instruction No. 33, Reporting of Abuse of Clients
ID-VA-0002-0010.pdf | Detail
not recorded
Findings Letter re: Northern Virginia Training Center, Fairfax
ID-VA-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
ID-VA-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Incident Reports
ID-VA-0002-0011.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Table of Reportable Patient/Resident Incidents
ID-VA-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Northern Virginia Training Center Plan & Attachments
ID-VA-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 15]
ID-VA-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
E.D. Va.
Order [ECF# 16]
ID-VA-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Brinkema, Leonie M. (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0008 | ID-VA-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Deutsch, David (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0005 | ID-VA-0002-0007
Dunne, John R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0001 | ID-VA-0002-0002
Fahey, Helen F. (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0005 | ID-VA-0002-9000
Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Parker, Richard (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0007 | ID-VA-0002-9000
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0003 | ID-VA-0002-0004 | ID-VA-0002-0005 | ID-VA-0002-0007 | ID-VA-0002-9000
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0005 | ID-VA-0002-0007
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Bigley, Garland L. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Fleming, Lynne R. (Virginia) show/hide docs
George, LaDale K. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Hickey, Jane D. (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0002-0007 | ID-VA-0002-9000
Hurd, William H. (Virginia) show/hide docs
York, Thomas B. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs

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