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Case Name Hargrave v. Vermont MH-VT-0001
Docket / Court 99-128 ( D. Vt. )
State/Territory Vermont
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On April 27, 1999, a Vermont resident who had been diagnosed with mental illness filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., against the Vermont Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On April 27, 1999, a Vermont resident who had been diagnosed with mental illness filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12111 et seq., against the Vermont Department of Developmental and Mental Health Services. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Connecticut Legal Rights Project, brought the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont, alleging that Vermont's statutes concerning individuals who were civilly committed for mental health reasons violated their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed the State violated their rights to have their treatment wishes, which were expressed in durable powers of attorney, followed when the State medicated them, pursuant to Vermont law, against their will in non-emergency circumstances. The law in question permitted the State to petition for medication of these individuals, even when the individuals refused it and even where such medication would violate the orders in their durable powers of attorney.

On August 2, 1999, Vermont Protection and Advocacy, Inc. moved to intervene as a plaintiff as well. The court (Magistrate Judge Jerome J. Niedermeier) approved that motion on January 11, 2000, and denied the defendants' Motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction the same day.

The court (Judge Niedermeier) entered an order on July 5, 2000, granting class certification to the plaintiffs. The class consisted of individuals within the state of Vermont who had been or in the future would be diagnosed with a mental illness and who either had or would execute a durable power of attorney for health care or had been or in the future would be deterred from executing such an advance directive for health care as a result of the statute.

On October 11, 2001, the court (Judge Niedermeier) issued an opinion regarding both parties' Motions for Summary Judgment. The court found that the Vermont law facially discriminated against the mentally disabled and it rejected the defendants' Motion to Dismiss and Motion for Summary Judgment. It granted the plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The court amended its Order on December 21, 2001. It enjoined the defendants from enforcing aspects of the law that apply to the individuals in the plaintiff class.

On February 6, 2002, the court (Judge Niedermeier) issued an Amended Opinion and Order. The next day, February 7, 2002, the court entered a Judgment against the State of Vermont for the plaintiffs.

The defendants appealed the Judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The court (Judge Jose A. Cabranes) affirmed the District Court's Judgment. Hargrave v. Vermont, 340 F.3d 27 (2d Cir. 2003). The litigation continued through 2004, as the plaintiffs sought an award of attorney fees. In the final entry on the PACER docket, on March 24, 2005, the court (Judge Niedermeier) granted the plaintiffs' motion for attorney fees.

Laura Uberti - 07/11/2006
Nick Kabat - 11/27/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Informed consent/involuntary medication
Medical/Mental Health
Medication, administration of
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Vermont
Plaintiff Description Vermont residents who had been or would be diagnosed with a mental illness and who either had or would execute a durable power of attorney for health care or had been or in the future would be deterred from executing it because of the statute.
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 not on record
Case Closing Year 2005
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
99-128 (D. Vt.) 03/24/2005
MH-VT-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order 10/11/2001 (D. Vt.)
MH-VT-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 12/21/2001 (D. Vt.)
MH-VT-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Opinion and Order 02/06/2002 (D. Vt.)
MH-VT-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reported Opinion 08/01/2003 (340 F.3d 27)
MH-VT-0001-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Cabranes, Jose Alberto (D. Conn., FISCR, Second Circuit)
MH-VT-0001-0004
Niedermeier, Jerome J. (D. Vt.) [Magistrate]
MH-VT-0001-0001 | MH-VT-0001-0002 | MH-VT-0001-0003 | MH-VT-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Aranoff, Susan (Connecticut)
MH-VT-0001-9000
Danon, Beth (Vermont)
MH-VT-0001-9000
Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)
MH-VT-0001-0004 | MH-VT-0001-9000
Smith, O. Whitman (Vermont)
MH-VT-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Asay, Bridget C. (Vermont)
MH-VT-0001-0004 | MH-VT-0001-9000
Beinner, Wendy (Vermont)
MH-VT-0001-9000
Wallace, John H. (Vermont)
MH-VT-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Rich, John Townsend (District of Columbia)
MH-VT-0001-0004
Stefan, Susan (Massachusetts)
MH-VT-0001-0004

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