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Case Name D.B. v. Casey JI-PA-0004
Docket / Court 91-6463 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On October 16, 1991, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of all boys confined, presently or in the future, in the Youth Development Center in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The ... read more >
On October 16, 1991, a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on behalf of all boys confined, presently or in the future, in the Youth Development Center in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Juvenile Law Center, sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that their constitutional rights were violated by conditions at the Youth Development Center.

The Youth Development Center's population was made up almost entirely of minorities, unlike the other juvenile detention facilities in Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs claimed that the Youth Development Center was overcrowded, unsanitary, and unsafe. They complained that the State provided inadequate staff, medical care, mental health care, education, rehabilitative programming, food and nutrition, recreational programming, access to legal counsel, and visitation privileges. Although the facility had both secure and open wards, violent detainees were neither classified nor housed separately from non-violent juveniles. The problem was exacerbated by courts that mistakenly assigned children too young for detention to the Youth Development Center. The facility was plagued by violence, inflicted by both inmates and staff. Employees beat, physically restrained, and isolated juveniles as punishment. In addition, some staff members trafficked drugs and alcohol, engaged in and permitted sexual activity with detainees, allowed them to have sexual relationships with one another, and assisted detainees to escape.

On April 9, 1993, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Judge Stewart R. Dalzell) approved a Stipulation of Settlement. The settlement recognized that many of the Youth Development Center's policies actually prohibited the complained of activity. The State agreed to enforce these policies, which it could not change without approval from the plaintiffs. The state agreed to increase and improve staff development to ensure that trained professionals provided consistent service. The State also agreed to screen detainees for disabilities, educate them, and hire a full time Client Rights Advocate. The State would hire a consultant (Peter Leone or another mutually acceptable expert) to monitor the State's conformance with the agreement. The parties agreed to address new complaints and non-compliance issues solely through an administrative system outlined in the Stipulation of Settlement.

On December 1, 1994, a probationary period for the parties to gauge their satisfaction with the settlement ended and the suit was dismissed. We have no additional information on this case or the efficacy of the process for addressing complaints.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 05/23/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Counseling
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Mail
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Plaintiff Description all boys confined, presently or in the future, in the Youth Development Center in Bensalem, Pennsylvania
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1993 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1993
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
91-6463 (E.D. Pa.) 12/01/1994
JI-PA-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 10/16/1991
JI-PA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges Dalzell, Stewart R. (E.D. Pa.)
JI-PA-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gold, Richard J. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-0001 | JI-PA-0004-9000
Kurland, Seymour (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-0001 | JI-PA-0004-9000
Lisi, Nicholas J. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-9000
Schwartz, Robert G. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-0001 | JI-PA-0004-9000
Vilim, Guy (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-0001 | JI-PA-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Helling, Ernest N. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-9000
Kane, John A. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-9000
Leisch, Doris M. (Pennsylvania)
JI-PA-0004-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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