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Case Name Johnson & U.S. v. Florida MH-FL-0001
Docket / Court 8:87-cv-00369-SCB ( M.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Special Collection Civil Rights Division Archival Collection
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On March 11, 1987, mentally ill patients at G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital (GPW), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Florida in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. The plaintiffs, represented by Florida Rural Legal ... read more >
On March 11, 1987, mentally ill patients at G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital (GPW), filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Florida in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division. The plaintiffs, represented by Florida Rural Legal Services, Advocacy Center, Southern Legal Counsel, the School Board of Manatee County, the Center for Public Representation, a public defender and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the State was violating their constitutional rights by providing substandard care and housing at GPW, and by failing to release them when they were "discharge ready." Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that the State: (1) violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to discharge them into less restrictive settings; (2) denied them procedural due process in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment by arbitrarily revoking privileges without formal standards and with no opportunity for challenge; (3) abridged their First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment rights by arbitrarily restricting visitation privileges; (4) infringed their right to counsel in violation of the First, Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide legal assistance or an adequate law library, and (5) violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights by providing inadequate medical staffing, recreation, vocational training, security and nutrition.

On March 16, 1989, the District Court (Judge Paul Game, Jr.) certified a class consisting of "all persons who are now or will in the future be committed" to GPW, and a subclass of present and future patients "who have been determined by their treatment team to be 'discharge ready' for a period of 15 days or longer, but who have not been discharged." Significantly, the court later expanded the class to include "former patients at GPW even after they are discharged into community treatment facilities."

In June 1989, the parties partially settled the case by entering into a consent decree under which the State of Florida agreed to make various changes in the hospital's operations. The consent decree provided for specific community living arrangements well beyond federal law standards. And, on September 13, 1989, the District Court (Judge Game) appointed David Ferleger, Linda Glenn, and Dorothy Rowe as monitors as provided by the consent decree.

Following substantial litigation respecting the monitors' recommendations, on November 17, 1989, the District Court (Judge Game) adopted the monitors' workplan and budget.

On December 5, 1989, the District Court (Judge Game) denied the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment. The defendants appealed.

On March 26, 1990, the District Court (Judge Game) denied the defendants' motion to remove the monitors. The defendants appealed.

On March 27, 1990, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted the defendants' motion to expedite the appeal from the District Court's denial of partial summary judgment.

On December 12, 1990, the District Court (Judge Hodges) redefined the plaintiff class to include only those persons confined at GPW into a community treatment facility, reserved ruling on the length of the defendants' obligations to the class as well as to whether the defendants had achieved substantial compliance with the consent decree, and denied the monitors' request for access to a central abuse registry.

There followed substantial litigation concerning payment of the monitors and attorneys' fees. On December 30, 1991, the case was reassigned to Judge Anne C. Conway. On February 4, 1992, the District Court (Judge Conway) approved the parties' joint stipulation to reduce the number of monitors, and also created a protocol to pay the monitors including a system of reconciliations. Numerous stipulations relating to payment followed.

The parties apparently worked out a settlement agreement and, on June 2, 1993, the District Court (Judge Conway) granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for a fairness hearing on the settlement agreement. The Court also granted a number of motions for attorney fees for the plaintiffs, throughout the course of litigation.

On January 3, 1994, the case was reassigned to Judge Susan C. Bucklew. Litigation continued concerning reconciliation payments for monitoring and attorneys' fees and, during this time, the defendants began moving to vacate the consent decree in whole and in part, as well as to recuse the monitors. On November 29, 1994, the District Court (Judge Bucklew) ordered the monitors to show cause why they had not yet met with the defendants to discuss a new budget. And, on April 25, 1995, the Court referred a number of motions to Magistrate Judge Thomas B McCoun III, who recommended that the motions be denied. On January 3 and July 11, 1995, the Court awarded the plaintiffs interim attorneys' fees. The defendants filed interlocutory appeals for reconsideration or to amend the Court's awards. The plaintiffs cross-appealed.

On November 13, 1995, the District Court (Judge Bucklew) referred the case to mediation and appointed Martha Cook as mediator to resolve the issues of quarterly reconciliations, payment applications, the monitors' budget and the monitors' recusal. A settlement followed, approved by the Court on March 7, 1996. The Court then referred to the mediator, Martha Cook, issues respecting exit criteria and legal access.

On May 15, 1996, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the defendants' appeal of the District Court's July 11, 1995, order. On January 27, 1997, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the defendants' appeal of the District Court's January 3, 1995, order.

Previously, on May 17, 1995, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sent a letter to the Governor of Florida indicating an intent to investigate conditions at Landmark Learning Center and GPW pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. After the State of Florida repeatedly denied DOJ access to the facilities, on November 9, 1995, the DOJ sent a findings letter to the Governor basing its information on public documents. On July 10, 1996, the United States submitted a motion to intervene in this case as a plaintiff.

On March 23, 1998, the District Court (Judge Becklew) adopted Magistrate Judge McCoun's recommendations, denying the defendants' motion to vacate, and granting the United States' motion to intervene.

On November 18, 1998, the Magistrate Court (Judge McCoun) ordered the defendants to comply with the monitors' request for access to class members as well as to mortality and budget information.

Significant litigation followed regarding attorneys' fees, substitution of attorneys, discovery, mediation, scheduling and continuance of a trial and compliance with the consent decree, during which time several emergency motions for protective orders were granted.

After a bench trial in August and September 2000, on June 28, 2001, the District Court (Judge Bucklew) entered judgment for the defendants and closed the case. Johnson v. Murphy, 2001 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24013 (D. Fla. June 28, 2001). The Court held that "[i]n this trial, the burden of proof was on the plaintiffs to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendants are violating the statutory and constitutional right of current and former GPW patients" and that "they have not done so," holding instead that "[w]hile the plaintiffs have offered evidence that mistakes have been made and that conditions and programs could be different or in some cases better, they have failed to prove that the patients at GPW are inadequately supervised; inadequately treated for self-injurious behavior; inadequately protected from environmental hazards; or that adverse incidents are inadequately investigated and/or responded to."

After one of the monitors apparently resigned, there was substantial litigation respecting the appointment of a replacement and the removal of the interim monitor.

In February 2002, GPW was closed.

On June 3, 2002, the District Court (Judge Bucklew) granted in part and denied in part the defendants' supplemental motion to terminate the consent decree and to dismiss the case with prejudice. The Court specifically denied the defendants' motion to terminate paragraphs of the consent decree pertaining to the monitoring of the defendants' community obligations and the Community Compliance Exit Criteria. A number of defendants filed separate appeals.

On October 29, 2003, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge R. Lanier Anderson III) affirmed the District Court's June 3, 2002, refusal to lift all conditions of the consent decree. Johnson v. Florida, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 22282 (11th Cir. Oct. 29, 2003). The Court held that the district court did not err by refusing to vacate the consent decree under Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5) because the state acknowledged that approximately 90 patients were still in the state's physical custody because they could not be released when the hospital closed. Moreover, it found that the district court's findings in the Justice Department's case that the hospital's conditions met substantive due process standards were not conclusive as to the consent decree, as the issues were not identical. It found that the district court did not err by denying the state attorneys' fees from the Justice Department under 42 U.S.C.S. § 1997c(d) because the DOJ case was not frivolous.

On March 19, 2004, the Magistrate Court (Judge McCoun) entered an order resolving the two remaining exit criteria issues. Over the next few years, the monitors submitted several budget plans for the defendants to follow, and the Court granted all of them.

On September 30, 2009, the Court held that people moving out of the area were no longer considered part of the class. Consequently, the Court found that two of the defendants sufficiently complied with the consent decree, and granted defendants' motion to exit the consent decree as to those two defendants. The following year, the Court granted defendants' motion to exit for the remaining two defendants, and the consent decree was dissolved.

Josh Altman - 07/07/2006
Maurice Youkanna - 07/09/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Hire
Monitoring
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
disability, unspecified
Least restrictive environment
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Aggressive behavior
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Deinstitutionalization/decarceration
Discharge & termination plans
Failure to supervise
Family reunification
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Individualized planning
Placement in mental health facilities
Reassessment and care planning
Record-keeping
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Florida
Plaintiff Description Present and future Patients at G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - 2010
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing ID-FL-0001 : CRIPA Investigation, Landmark Learning Center, Opa-Locka (FL) (No Court)
Docket(s)
87-369 (M.D. Fla.) 03/03/2011
MH-FL-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 03/11/1987
MH-FL-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 12/14/1987
MH-FL-0001-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint 12/14/1988
MH-FL-0001-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree between Plaintiffs and Defendants 06/09/1989 (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum re: Proposal of CRIPA Investigation of .....and G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital, Arcadia, Florida 03/23/1995
MH-FL-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital, Arcadia, Florida 05/17/1995
MH-FL-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital, Arcadia, Florida 11/09/1995
MH-FL-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Complaint in Intervention 04/02/1998
MH-FL-0001-0010 PDF | Detail
Order 06/28/2001 (2001 WL 1891711) (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 06/28/2001 (2001 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 24013) (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0015 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Order 06/03/2002 (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 10/29/2003 (348 F.3d 1334)
MH-FL-0001-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 03/19/2004 (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Adopting Report and Recommendation] 09/30/2009 (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion to Exit Suncoast Region and District 8 and Terminate Consent Decree] 02/19/2010 (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Anderson, Robert Lanier III (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit)
MH-FL-0001-0011
Bucklew, Susan C. (M.D. Fla.)
MH-FL-0001-0003 | MH-FL-0001-0005 | MH-FL-0001-0006 | MH-FL-0001-0007 | MH-FL-0001-0013 | MH-FL-0001-0014 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Cox, Emmett Ripley (Eleventh Circuit, S.D. Ala.)
MH-FL-0001-0011
McCoun, Thomas B. III (M.D. Fla.) [Magistrate]
MH-FL-0001-0007
Nangle, John Francis (E.D. Mo.)
MH-FL-0001-0011
Monitors/Masters Rowe, Dorothy J. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bell, Aileen M. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Bevington, Elizabeth Lewis (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Coffey, Kendall Brindley (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0002
Dale, Michael J. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Davis, Tawana E. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Deerinwater, Verlin Hughes (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Edwards, Lisa Wilson (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Green, James K. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0004 | MH-FL-0001-0008 | MH-FL-0001-0009 | MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0012 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Grissom, Hubert A. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Guare, Michael D. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Larson, Christine Elizabeth (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Leto, Nora (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0012 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Lopez, Christy (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Lubin, Elaine R. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Lynn, Robin (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0011
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0010
Meeks, Karen Ivy (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0009 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Mensing, James F. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0004 | MH-FL-0001-0008
Nelson, Alice K. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0001 | MH-FL-0001-0002 | MH-FL-0001-0003 | MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0001 | MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Rosenberg, Robin Lee (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts)
MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Seigel, Michael L. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Shapiro, Robert J. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Siegel, Jodi (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Weinstein, Laurie J. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Whisnant, Deborah (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Wilson, Charles R. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0002 | MH-FL-0001-0003
Zimmerman, Warren A. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0010 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Zogby, Joseph R. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Zollo, Nina Marie (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Butterworth, Robert A. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0002 | MH-FL-0001-0003
Deluccia, Anthony N. Jr. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Dunn, Mark S. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Fass, Joel Stephen (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Goodman, Stephen B. (Pennsylvania)
MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Page, Pamela H. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Shelkofsky, Morris E. Jr. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Smith, Chesterfield Jr. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Stabile, Victor P. (Pennsylvania)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Talenfeld, Howard M. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Taylor, Eric Joseph (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Vail, E. Jason (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0003 | MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Williams, James Orrin Jr. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0012 | MH-FL-0001-9000
York, Thomas B. (Pennsylvania)
MH-FL-0001-0011 | MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Harrop, Ronald L. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-0015 | MH-FL-0001-9000
Raab, Harriet (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0002
Roberts, William H. (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Williams, Moses Eugene (Florida)
MH-FL-0001-9000
Winston, Judith A. (District of Columbia)
MH-FL-0001-0002

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