University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. Virginia MH-VA-0002
Docket / Court 96-284 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On September 30, 1992, the United States Department of Justice initiated an investigation of Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. In May 1993, the Department of ... read more >
On September 30, 1992, the United States Department of Justice initiated an investigation of Eastern State Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. In May 1993, the Department of Justice toured and inspected the facilities, which included the Hancock Geriatric Center. The Department of Justice found that EHS failed to provide adequate psychiatric treatment to patients as required under the Fourteenth Amendment and notified the Governor of Virginia of these findings on May 6, 1994.

According to the Department of Justice, diagnostic methods at EHS did not reflect commonly accepted professional standards in that patients' symptoms, histories, and cognitive assessments were not used. As a result, many patients were misdiagnosed repeatedly during their institutionalization. Individualized planning suffered both from incorrect diagnoses and insufficient staff numbers and training. Understaffing also forced patients to live in more restrictive environments than necessary and fostered overuse of physical restraint. General medical care was inadequate and people with too little experience regularly made dosing decisions for patient care. Finally, the facility's fire prevention was substandard.

It appears that the Department of Justice was dissatisfied with Virginia's attempts to remedy the problems because, on February 8, 1995, the Department of Justice issued another findings letter, which detailed the statutory violations in addition to constitutional violations. Specifically, the Department of Justice charged that conditions at EHS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq., § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §§ 794 et seq., Title XVIII of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395i et seq. (establishing the Health Insurance Program for the Aged and Disabled, or Medicare), and Virginia state law, Va. Code Ann. § 37.1 ñ 84.1 (Mitchie 1994). The Department of Justice solicited Virginia's cooperation in improving conditions at ESH.

On March 4, 1996, the United States filed a CRIPA lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of individuals institutionalized at ESH against the Commonwealth of Virginia, its Governor, and its Departments of Health and Human Resources and of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, and Eastern State Hospital. On May 10, 1996, the court (Judge Leonie M. Brinkema) denied the United States' request to consolidate this lawsuit with United States v. Commonwealth of Virginia, No. 96-283, ID-VA-002. On May 21, 1996, the court dismissed the action for improper venue. That judgment was stayed to encourage settlement.

On July 18, 1996, the parties filed a settlement agreement and the court closed the case. On June 10, 1997, the parties modified the settlement. On March 25, 1999, the parties jointly asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice based on defendants' substantial implementation of the plan agreed to in the settlement agreement; the court agreed to that dismissal. (We do not have a copy of the settlement agreement.)

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/29/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Disability
Least restrictive environment
General
Confinement/isolation
Fire safety
Individualized planning
Reassessment and care planning
Restraints : physical
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
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.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Virginia
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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 not on record
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing ID-VA-0002 : U.S. v. Virginia (E.D. Va.)
Docket(s)
96-284 (E.D. Va.) 10/25/2005
MH-VA-0002-9000 PDF | Detail
General Documents
Findings Letter re: Eastern State Hospital and Hancock Geriatric Center, Williamsburg 05/06/1994
MH-VA-0002-0001 PDF | Detail
Correspondence 02/05/1995
MH-VA-0002-0005 PDF | Detail
Findings Letter re: Eastern State Hospital and Hancock Geriatric Center, Williamsburg 02/08/1995
MH-VA-0002-0002 PDF | Detail
Complaint 03/05/1996
MH-VA-0002-0003 PDF | Detail
Judges Brinkema, Leonie M. (E.D. Va.) [Magistrate]
MH-VA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Deutsch, David (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003 | MH-VA-0002-9000
Fahey, Helen F. (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-0001 | MH-VA-0002-0002 | MH-VA-0002-0003 | MH-VA-0002-9000
Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003
Masling, Mark S. (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003
Moossy, Robert J. (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003
Parker, Richard (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-0003 | MH-VA-0002-9000
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0001 | MH-VA-0002-0002 | MH-VA-0002-0003 | MH-VA-0002-0005 | MH-VA-0002-9000
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003 | MH-VA-0002-0005
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
MH-VA-0002-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Bigley, Garland L. (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-9000
Gilmore, James S. III (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-0001
Hickey, Jane D. (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-9000
Hurd, William H. (Virginia)
MH-VA-0002-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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