University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Williams v. Lesiak MH-MA-0003
Docket / Court 72-571 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On February 15, 1972, Harold Williams and other residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the center alleging that the conditions of confinement and ... read more >
On February 15, 1972, Harold Williams and other residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the center alleging that the conditions of confinement and inadequacy of treatment programs violated their rights under the Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments. Conditions included cells which lacked sinks or toilets, inadequate medical care, and a lack of any activities or work release programs. Plaintiffs were represented by private attorneys.

This case was litigated with King v. Greenblatt (MH-MA-0004). In 1974, the district court (Judge Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr.) entered two consent decrees in King and one in this case. The decrees placed the facility under the authority of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, prohibited defendants from using solitary confinement for purposes of punishment or discipline, and provided other constitutional guidelines. At the time of the consent decrees, conditions in the facility were very poor as a result of overcrowding, unsafe drinking water, lack of toilet facilities, obsolete heating and ventilation, inadequate staffing, and lack of recreational opportunities and facilities. Inmates brought many cases to enforce these decrees and conditions at the facility gradually improved.

There were tensions over the shared control of the facility by the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health. After the state legislature recommended that control of the facility be with the Department of Corrections solely, the district court (Judge John J. McNaught) appointed a Special Master to consider the viability of the consent decrees. Later, legislation was passed granting control to the Department of Corrections. Judge McNaught officially consolidated the Williams and King cases in 1994 and appointed counsel for a class of 48 inmates who alleged constitutional violations in the facility.

The Department of Corrections presented the court with a proposed plan for administering the facility and in 1995, Judge McNaught directed the parties to reach a consensus on the rules and regulations that would govern the facility. That did not occur.

On October 31, 1996, Judge A. David Mazzone granted Massachusetts's motion to modify the decrees but denied a motion to vacate the previous decrees. On June 21, 1999, Judge Mazzone granted the motion to vacate the consent decrees, holding that that the conditions at the center that had been the basis of the decrees had been remediated. King v. Greenblatt, 53 F. Supp. 2d 117 (D. Mass. 1999). The court also found that the Department of Corrections had demonstrated the intent and ability to operate the facility in a manner consistent with the rights of plaintiff patients and the goals of treatment. Judge Mazzone ordered the case closed on that date.

Angela Heverling - 05/30/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Bathing and hygiene
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, unspecified
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Massachusetts
Plaintiff Description Inmates/residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1974 - 1999
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing MH-MA-0004 : King v. Greenblatt (D. Mass.)
Docket(s)
72-571 (D. Mass.) 08/20/2004
MH-MA-0003-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion 07/07/1987 (822 F.2d 1223)
MH-MA-0003-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order on Requests for Attorneys' Fees 12/22/1989 (1989 WL 156949) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0008 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Reported Opinion 03/22/1991 (928 F.2d 1206)
MH-MA-0003-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 03/31/1993 (1993 WL 818811) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0009 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Reported Opinion 04/06/1995 (52 F.3d 1)
MH-MA-0003-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 10/02/1995 (516 U.S. 863)
MH-MA-0003-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion 10/10/1997 (127 F.3d 190)
MH-MA-0003-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 07/07/1998 (149 F.3d 9)
MH-MA-0003-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order 06/21/1999 (53 F.Supp.2d 117) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bownes, Hugh Henry (First Circuit, D.N.H.)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0005
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
MH-MA-0003-0005 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Campbell, Levin Hicks (First Circuit, D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Coffin, Frank Morey (First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Lagueux, Ronald Rene (D.R.I.)
MH-MA-0003-0006
Lenk, Barbara A. (State Supreme Court)
MH-MA-0003-0009
Mazzone, A. David (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
McNaught, John Joseph (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0008
Selya, Bruce Marshall (D.R.I., FISCR, First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Stahl, Norman H. (First Circuit, D.N.H.)
MH-MA-0003-0001
Torruella, Juan R. (D.P.R., First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0005
Monitors/Masters Gleason, Herbert P. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bass, Victor (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005
Follett, Jeffrey S. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Keefe, Robert Dennis (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Novello, David P. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005
O'Connor, Francis Patrick (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002
Perrelli, Katherine E. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0006
Reilly, Stephen C. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001
Russell, Peter F. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002
Schreckinger, Steven L. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005
Scibelli, Anthony A. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Wadland, Joseph J. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0006
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Douglas S. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-9000
Davis, Scott M. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001
Gray, Alexander G. Jr. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005
Harshbarger, Scott (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Hitt, John R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Mogilnicki, Eric J (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0006
Pardee, William L. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Shannon, James M. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Sorokin, Leo Theodore (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Wechsler, Peter T. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Yogman, Judith (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002
Other Lawyers DeWolfe, Ronald (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-9000
Donelan, Charles (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-0006 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Eisenberg, Beth (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Geiger, David R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Handler, Jonathan I. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Pingeon, James R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Reed, Sarah B. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001
Reinert, Anton R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -