Amicus Briefs, Damage and Civil Rights Cases

Amicus Briefs: Community Integration

United States v. Florida (2017) – Assisted on amicus brief discussing the importance of federal enforcement of the ADA filed by numerous disability rights organizations.

United States v. Florida (2017) – Assisted on amicus brief discussing the importance of federal enforcement of the ADA filed on behalf of former members of Congress.

City of Cleburne v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432 (1985) – Filed an amicus brief on behalf of professional organizations and ten plaintiff classes in related cases arguing for the right to live in community settings. 

KARC v. Conn, 674 F.2d 582 (6th Cir. 1982) – Filed an amicus brief in appeal of federal class action suit challenging Kentucky’s failure to create less restrictive alternatives for institutionalized persons with developmental disabilities and seeking to halt the construction of a new institution at Outwood.

McKnight v. McCarthy, 406 Mass. 787 (1989) – Filed an amicus brief in case seeking to establish a right to safety and services under the Massachusetts Constitution for a severely handicapped person living in the community.

Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999) – Coordinated seven amici briefs in support of respondents arguing that the ADA’s integration provision precludes segregation and requires community placement of persons with disabilities.

Pennhurst v. Halderman, 451 U.S. 1 (1981) – Filed amicus brief on behalf of institutionalized persons in 11 similar cases in landmark lawsuit seeking community services for all residents of the Pennhurst State Hospital.  

Philadelphia Police and Firefighters Association v. City of Philadelphia, 874 F.2d 156 (3rd Cir. 1989) – Filed an amicus brief in case seeking to challenge the termination of habilitative services for persons living with their families in the community.

S.H. v. Edwards, 886 F.2d 292 (11th Cir. 1989) – Filed an amicus brief in case challenging lack of community services for residents of the Georgia Developmental Center.

United States v. Virginia (E.D. Va. 2014) – Represented organizational amicus in support of landmark ADA settlement for residents of all public institutions for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Virginia when parents seek to intervene and oppose settlement.  

Amicus Briefs:  Criminal/Juvenile Justice

Department of Corrections v. Yeskey, 524 U.S. 206 (1998) – Filed two amicus briefs in support of the respondent arguing that the ADA applies to state prisons and that Congress has the authority, under the Section 5 of 14th Amendment, to prevent discrimination in the operation of state facilities and programs.

Amicus Briefs: Health Care

GGNSC Chestnut Hill v. Schrader, (1st Cir. 2019) – filed an amicus brief arguing that arbitration agreements should not prevent a nursing facility resident’s surviving relatives from bringing a wrongful death case in state court. 

United States v. Commonwealth, 890 F.2d 507 (1st Cir. 1989) – Represented amici residents of the Worcester State Hospital in the first suit brought by the United States Justice Department under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, seeking to remedy unconstitutional conditions in the state hospital.  Settled by consent decree, August 3, l987.  

Amicus Briefs: Health Care, Involuntary Interventions and/or Legal Capacity

Commonwealth v. Accime, 476 Mass. 469, 68 N.E.3d 1153 (2017) – Submitted an amicus brief on behalf of a man who became verbally abusive in a hospital emergency department when advised he would be medicated and restrained against his will.  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reverses his conviction for disorderly conduct. 

Guardianship of Anthony, 402 Mass. 723 (1988) – Filed an amicus brief in case that held the state cannot administer AIDS test to people under guardianship living in a state operated facility.

Guardianship of Erma, 459 Mass. 801 (2011) – Filed an amicus brief in case holding that people under guardianship have a right to timely notice of petitions to extend treatment orders.

Guardianship of L.H., 84 Mass. App. Ct. 711 (2014) – Filed an amicus brief in case that held counsel was ineffective because the lawyer undermined and argued against her expressed preference to decline treatment.

Guardianship of Weedon, 409 Mass. 196 (1991) – Filed an amicus brief in case holding that forced medication orders must be reviewed at least annually. 

Hargrave v. Vermont, 340 F.3d 27 (2d Cir.  2003) – Filed an amicus brief in a case challenging Vermont’s mental health advance directive law as violating the ADA. The Vermont statute invalidated an advance directive shortly after the principal’s admission to a psychiatric facility. Since there was no similar provision for individuals without mental illness, the 2d Circuit held the statute violated the ADA.

In the Matter of Guardianship of Richard Roe III, 383 Mass. 415, 421 N.E.2d 40 (1981) – Filed an amicus brief in guardianship case before the Supreme Judicial Court asserting the right of persons living in the community to refuse treatment, absent a judicial finding of incompetency and the appointment of a guardian authorized to consent to such medication. 

Temple v. Garbose, 395 Mass. 117 (1985) – Filed an amicus brief in case challenging illegal confinement of handicapped person.

Zinermon v. Burch, 494 U.S. 113 (1990) – Submitted an amicus brief on behalf of resident of a Florida state hospital seeking damages for his wrongful confinement.

Amicus Briefs:  Protection and Advocacy

Alabama Disability Law Center v. J.S. Tarwater Developmental Center, 97 F.3d 492 (11th Cir. 1996) – Submitted amicus brief supporting right of the Alabama protection and advocacy program to obtain the medical records of individuals who may have been subjected to abuse or neglect.

Maryland Disability Law Center v. Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, 664 A. 2d 16 (1995) – Filed an amicus brief filed in case establishing the right of protection and advocacy agency to determine probable cause of abuse or neglect. 

Damage Cases:  Health Care

Bolivar v. Riquier (Suffolk Superior Court 1989) – Civil rights damage action for the illegal confinement, inadequate habilitation, and wrongful death of a person with an intellectual disability in a state psychiatric hospital, settled for substantial sum in excess of $300,000.

Cockerham v. Hughes (E.D. Texas 1987) – Civil rights damage action for young man with an intellectual disability who was abused by staff at the Fort Worth State School settled for $85,000 plus attorney’s fees.

Galenski v. Noonan (Hampshire Superior Court 1988) – Civil rights damage action challenging the excessive restraint, inappropriate medication, lack of treatment, and wrongful death at the Bridgewater State Hospital of a man who had been institutionalized for 42 years is settled for undisclosed amount in excess of $275,000.

Gannon v. Correctional Medical Services (Mass. Superior Court 1998) – Civil rights damage action on behalf of a man with chronic diabetes who died from inadequate medical care in a state forensic hospital settled for significant sum.

Heck v. Commonwealth, 397 Mass. 336 (1986) – Statutory notice of claim time period tolled for a person with a mental disability who sues state employees under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.

Hinkley v. Fair (Hampshire Superior Court 1988) – Civil rights damage action challenging the commitment and confinement of a woman with alcohol addiction to state prison settled for $120,000 including attorney’s fees. Commonwealth of Massachusetts agrees to create a range of community treatment programs for similarly situated class women.  When a similar suit is filed twenty years later on behalf of women with substance abuse conditions, see Jane Does v. Baker, the Commonwealth agrees to develop a range of community drug treatment programs and end all civil commitments to the prison. 

Incropera v. Riquier (Middlesex Superior Court 1989) – Civil rights damage action for the illegal confinement, inadequate habilitation, and wrongful death at a state psychiatric hospital of an elderly person who had no mental illness is settled for substantial sum in excess of $100,000.

Kelley v. Maher (Middlesex Superior Court 1987) – Civil rights damage action on behalf of special education student with multiple disabilities who was sexually abused by her teacher, settled for undisclosed award in excess of $80,000.

Lipson v. Commonwealth (Suffolk Superior Court. 1992) – Civil rights action on behalf of a woman with severe eating disorder who is injured during repeated escapes from a state psychiatric hospital; Commonwealth settles damage claims for amount in excess of $300,000 and agrees to develop new programs in the community for similarly situated persons.

Little v. Commonwealth (Middlesex Superior Court 1990) – Civil rights damage action for a resident of Metropolitan State Hospital who was abused and illegally restrained settled for $50,000. 

McCarthy v. Mana Kana Maui Resorts (D. Hawaii 1996) – Damage action on behalf of a man with physical disabilities who was injured as a result of lack of adequate access to restaurant settled before trial for substantial sum in excess of $1,000,000.

Rockwell v. Cape Cod Hospital, 26 F.3d 254 (1st Cir. 1994) – In damage case for wrongful detention by private hospital and private psychiatrists, First Circuit rejects argument that emergency detention commitment, authorized by state law, constitutes state action.

Shine v. Vega, 429 Mass. 456, 709 N.E.2d 58 (1999) – Damage action on behalf of a woman with acute asthma who was restrained and forcibly treated in emergency room of large teaching hospital; jury verdict and instructions reversed by the Supreme Judicial Court, which held that emergency room patient has a right to refuse even life-saving treatment. 

Whiston v. Commonwealth (Suffolk Superior Court 1987) – Malpractice action on behalf of a woman who suffered burns while at Northampton State Hospital is settled for $35,000

Civil Rights Cases

Boyd v. Registrars of Belchertown, 368 Mass. 631 (1975) – Established right to vote for residents of Belchertown State School.

Hardin v. Sullivan (D. Mass. 1974) – Established right to vote for the residents of the Northampton State Hospital. 

McBride v. Okin (D. Mass. 1982) – Class action case challenges, on constitutional grounds, lack of an accessible grievance procedure for consumers of mental health services.  Case is settled in 1985 when Department of Health agrees to promulgate new regulations creating a comprehensive client complaint procedure (104 CMR 24.00).

Additional Cases

Community Integration

Gallup v. Alden, 51 Mass. App. Dec. 41 (l975) – Established obligation of the state to investigate and consider all less restrictive alternatives as part of proof for civil commitment, as well as several other substantive and procedural issues in commitment hearings.

Healey v. Weld (D. Mass. 1994) – In response to the passage of a state statute that imposed restrictions on the rights of institutionalized persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live in the community, the Commonwealth agrees to a settlement that results in the  placement of all residents of large public ICF/DD facility who do not oppose transition to the community.   

Linden v. King (D. Mass. l979) – Suit seeking to establish the right of elderly nursing home residents to live in less restrictive, noninstitutionalized alternatives settled with expansion of home health care services that allowed thousands of seniors to remain in their homes with appropriate care.

Mahoney v. Weld (Mass. Superior Court 1995) – State statute which prohibits discharges of persons with disabilities from certain state institutions that were targeted for closure held unconstitutional. 

People First v. Rainier (D. Wash. 1997) – Class action case on behalf of residents of the Rainier Developmental Center challenging unnecessary segregation, in violation of the ADA.  Case settled on behalf of named plaintiffs who all received community services and integrated living arrangements.

Criminal/Juvenile Justice

J.A. v. Forman (Mass. Superior Ct. 1994) – Class action on behalf of inmates of a county jail who have been denied minimally adequate mental health treatment settled through the expansion of mental health services in jail. 

J.D. v. Boyle (D. Mass. 1991) – Massachusetts Department of Correction enters settlement agreement granting broad access to all portions of a forensic facility for protection and advocacy attorneys. 

Kenniston v. Department of Youth Services, 453 Mass. 179 (2009) – The Supreme Judicial Court struck down a law that permitted the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services to seek an extension of a youth’s commitment from age 18 to age 21 if DYS believed that release would create a likelihood of harm. Representing a youth whose commitment was extended, CPR and co-counsel, Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts, argued, and the SJC agreed, that the law was a violation of substantive due process because the alleged future dangerousness was not linked to any mental illness.

Health Care

Kadlick v. Department of Mental Health, 431 Mass. 850, 731 N.E.2d 495 (2000) – Challenge to the practice of applying SSI funds of state hospital residents to pay charges for care; DMH revises regulations to prohibit use of federal SSI benefits for state hospital bills.

Lambourne v. Bank of Boston (D. Mass. 1996) – Challenge to discriminatory long term disability policy which limits benefits for persons with mental disabilities but not physical disabilities; case settled for all retroactive long term disability benefits.

Involuntary Interventions

Gallup v. Alden, 51 Mass. App. Dec. 41 (l975) – Established obligation of the state to investigate and consider all less restrictive alternatives as part of proof for civil commitment, as well as several other substantive and procedural issues in commitment hearings.

Hashimi v. Kalil, 388 Mass. 607, 446 N.E.2d 1387 (1983) – Established the right of persons subject to petitions for civil commitment to have the petition dismissed if their hearings do not commence within statutory time frames.  This case has been cited more than 100 times by Massachusetts courts. 

Little v. Commonwealth (Middlesex Superior Court 1990) – Civil rights damage action for a resident of Metropolitan State Hospital who was abused and illegally restrained settled for $50,000. 

McBride v. Okin (D. Mass. 1982) – Class action case challenges, on constitutional grounds, lack of an accessible grievance procedure for consumers of mental health services.  Case is settled in 1985 when Department of Health agrees to promulgate new regulations creating a comprehensive client complaint procedure (104 CMR 24.00).

Newton-Wellesley Hosp. v. Magrini, 451 Mass. 777 (2008) – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reverses the district court appellate division’s ruling andholds respondent was entitled to an emergency hearing quickly after his involuntary detention. 

Rockwell v. Cape Cod Hospital, 26 F.3d 254 (1st Cir. 1994) – In damage case for wrongful detention by private hospital and private psychiatrists, First Circuit rejects argument that emergency detention commitment, authorized by state law, constitutes state action.

Shine v. Vega, 429 Mass. 456, 709 N.E.2d 58 (1999) – Damage action on behalf of a woman with acute asthma who was restrained and forcibly treated in emergency room of large teaching hospital; jury verdict and instructions reversed by the Supreme Judicial Court, which held that emergency room patient has a right to refuse even life-saving treatment. 

T.P. v. Dubois, 843 F. Supp. 775 (D. Mass. 1993) – Court enjoins statute which requires persons with disabilities confined in public institutions to pay portion of cost of public defender in civil commitment proceedings as violation of due process and equal protection.

Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1990) – Filed an amicus brief in right to refuse treatment case.