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Case Name Koskinas v. Cuomo MH-NY-0005
Docket / Court 26499/87 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
Plaintiffs, homeless and mentally ill persons who had been discharged from state mental hospitals, filed two complaints in New York County's Supreme Court of the State of New York. (In that state, the "Supreme Court" is a trial court.) Represented by private counsel from a large New York City law ... read more >
Plaintiffs, homeless and mentally ill persons who had been discharged from state mental hospitals, filed two complaints in New York County's Supreme Court of the State of New York. (In that state, the "Supreme Court" is a trial court.) Represented by private counsel from a large New York City law firm, plaintiffs alleged that state and municipal officials and agencies, the defendants, had failed to comply with their obligation under state law (Mental Hygene Law § 29.15 (f) and (g)) to provide proper written service plans to patients discharged from mental hospitals. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief and an injunction mandating compliance. One complaint was instituted against the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC") and other municipal defendants, while the other named as defendants the state's governor and Office of Mental Health ("OMH").

In March 1988, considering the cases together, the trial judge, Justice Edward H. Lehner, denied plaintiffs' request that the defendants produce 200-300 written service plans as a representative sample of what defendants prepared for persons discharged from mental hospitals. Heard v. Cuomo, 526 N.Y.S.2d 760 (1988). The denial, however, was reversed on appeal in a memorandum decision which approved of disclosure, but with redactions of patient-identifying information and limits on access to, and use of, the service plan sample. The appellate court also declined to certify the cases as a class action, noting that any relief granted to plaintiffs would adequately flow to and protect others similarly situated. Heard v. Cuomo, 531 N.Y.S.2d 253 (App. Div. 1988).

After joint trial of the two cases, Justice Lehner issued a written decision on February 26, 1991. He found that, while the state defendants were not in violation of their obligations under the Mental Hygene Law, in the action against the municipal defendants a declaration would issue that the HHC violated its statutory obligations with respect to discharge planning. The judge decreed, however, in view of the fact that there was not then in existence sufficient available housing to enable HHC to immediately fully comply, its' judgment would provide for implementation over a period of time. The court invited the parties' suggestions as to the appropriate time period for compliance. Heard v. Cuomo, 567 N.Y.S.2d 594 (1991). In January 1992, the Appellate Division affirmed and granted leave for the municipal defendants to appeal to the state's Court of Appeals. Heard v. Cuomo, 578 N.Y.S.2d 417 (App. Div. 1992).

In an opinion written by Judge Bellacosa, the Court of Appeals affirmed the order of the Appellate Division and held that, in the context of this case, Mental Hygiene Law § 29.15 imposed these duties on HHC: (1) to prescribe and assist in locating adequate and appropriate housing for about-to-be-discharged mentally ill patients; (2) to discharge them in accordance with the individualized, written, patient service plans which include recommended housing; and (3) to coordinate the effectuation of those efforts among responsible entities. The court took care to note that neither the statute nor the affirmed judgment imposed upon HHC the explicit duty to build, create, supply or fund such housing, saying that arguments to the contrary were an "overreading" of the decisions plaintiffs had won. Heard v. Cuomo, 610 N.E.2d 348 (N.Y. 1993).

According to the Urban Justice website, the rights established in this case to proper discharge planning became known, in New York, as "Koskinas" rights, taking the name of the lead plaintiff in one of the two complaints that resulted in the Court of Appeals decision.

We have no information describing additional activity in the case.

Kristen Sagar - 05/02/2009


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Disability
Integrated setting
General
Individualized planning
Reassessment and care planning
Medical/Mental Health
Medicare eligibility determination
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation
Plaintiff Description Homeless and mentally ill persons individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are inpatients in psychiatric units in New York City hospitals
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1992 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Order 03/28/1988 (526 N.Y.S.2d 760)
MH-NY-0005-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Decision 07/28/1988 (142 A.D.2d 537)
MH-NY-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Decision 04/24/1990 (160 A.D.2d 590)
MH-NY-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order by the Supreme Court of New York County 02/26/1991 (567 N.Y.S.2d 594)
MH-NY-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Granting Leave to Appeal 01/14/1992 (179 A.D.2d 429)
MH-NY-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Granting Leave to Appeal to Court of Appeal 03/12/1992 (181 A.D.2d 1080)
MH-NY-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion of the Court of NY Court of Appeals 02/18/1993 (610 N.E.2d 348)
MH-NY-0005-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bellacosa, Joseph W. (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0001
Carro, John (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0002 | MH-NY-0005-0005 | MH-NY-0005-0006
Ellerin, Betty Weinberg (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Kassal, Bentley (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0006
Kupferman, Theodore R. (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0002 | MH-NY-0005-0005 | MH-NY-0005-0006
Lehner, Edward H. (State Trial Court)
MH-NY-0005-0004 | MH-NY-0005-0007
Milonas, E. Leo (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Rosenberger, Ernst H. (State Trial Court)
MH-NY-0005-0002
Ross, David Bennet Court not on record
MH-NY-0005-0006
Rubin, Israel (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0002
Sullivan, Joseph P. (State Supreme Court)
MH-NY-0005-0002 | MH-NY-0005-0006
Wallach, Richard W. (State Appellate Court)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Greenfield, Jay (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0006 | MH-NY-0005-0007
Hayes, Robert M. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Johnson, Jeh Charles (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Moskowitz, Ellen M. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Shudofsky, Alisa (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Robert W. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0004 | MH-NY-0005-0007
Durfee, P. A. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Feiner, L. A. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0005
Fleischer, Arnold D. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Gutwirth, George (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Kolikoff, Fred (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0006
Kovner, Victor A. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Shiono, Masako C. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0007
Zimroth, Peter L. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0004
Other Lawyers Freeman, G. (New York)
MH-NY-0005-0006

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