University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Thomas S. v. Flaherty ID-NC-0001
Docket / Court 82-418 ( W.D.N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Case Summary
On July 7, 1982, a mentally disabled ward of the state of North Carolina, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated his constitutional rights ... read more >
On July 7, 1982, a mentally disabled ward of the state of North Carolina, filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of North Carolina in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him treatment of his mental disabilities (retardation and schizophrenia) in a less restrictive, more community-based setting.

On May 26, 1983, the parties agreed to a special treatment plan which provided appropriate community-based treatment for the plaintiff until March 1, 1984. That agreement was incorporated into a judgment by the court, and the court deferred ruling on all the parties' motions for summary judgment, designating the case as inactive until February 1, 1984. During the interim, the plaintiff was shifted to three additional placements. The defendants eventually placed him in the Gaston County detoxification facility because they had no other place for him to live.

On September 18, 1984, the court (Judge James Bryan McMillan) granted summary judgment to the plaintiff on his constitutional claims. The court held that the defendants, who had been appointed guardians of the plaintiff, were charged with the responsibility, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to ensure that legitimate restraints placed on the plaintiff were no more restrictive than necessary. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Morrow, 601 F.Supp. 1055 (W.D.N.C. 1984). The defendants appealed.

On December 7, 1984, the district court permitted the intervention of four additional plaintiffs and certified them as a class. However, the court stayed further litigation on behalf of the intervening plaintiffs and class members pending the outcome of the defendants' appeal. On January 9, 1986, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Judge John Decker Butzner, Jr.) affirmed the district court's decision. Thomas S. v. Morrow, 781 F.2d 367 (4th Cir. 1986). The defendants appealed that decision, and on May 19, 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Kirk v. Thomas S., 476 U.S. 1124 (1986).

On November 21, 1988, following trial, the district court (Judge McMillan) held that the defendants had violated the due process rights of the members of the plaintiff class. The court held that the plaintiffs had a constitutional right to live in a minimally adequate habilitation in a safe environment, free from undue bodily restraint. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Flaherty, 699 F.Supp. 1178 (W.D.N.C. 1988). The defendants appealed. On May 23, 1990, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Judge Butzner) affirmed the district court's decision. Thomas S. by Brooks v. Flaherty, 902 F.2d 250 (4th Cir. 1990). The defendants appealed. On October 29, 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. Flaherty v. Thomas S., 498 U.S. 951 (1990).

Several years later, the defendants asked the court to narrow the plaintiff class to include only those "treated clinically as mentally retarded." The district court (Judge McMillan) declined to narrow the class in that manner, and the defendants appealed. On July 15, 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a per curiam opinion affirming the district court's ruling. Thomas S. v. Flaherty, No. 93-1018, 1993 WL 264697 (4th Cir. 1993).

The parties continued to litigate regarding attorneys' fees, and on July 27, 1998, the district court closed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 03/28/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Disability
Integrated setting
General
Classification / placement
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Schizophrenia
Type of Facility
Government-run
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Broughton Hospital
Plaintiff Description mentally retarded wards of the State of North Carolina
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 1984 - 1998
Case Closing Year 1998
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
82-418 (W.D.N.C.) 08/13/1998
ID-NC-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 09/18/1984 (601 F.Supp. 1055) (W.D.N.C.)
ID-NC-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 02/19/1986 (781 F.2d 367)
ID-NC-0001-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Untitled 05/19/1986 (476 U.S. 1124)
ID-NC-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law 11/21/1988 (699 F.Supp. 1178) (W.D.N.C.)
ID-NC-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 05/23/1990 (902 F.2d 250)
ID-NC-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum Decision 10/29/1990 (498 U.S. 951)
ID-NC-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Opinion 07/15/1993 (998 F.2d 1010)
ID-NC-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Butzner, John Decker Jr. (E.D. Va., Fourth Circuit)
ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-0004
Ervin, Samuel James III (Fourth Circuit)
ID-NC-0001-0005
McMillan, James Bryan (W.D.N.C.)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0003
Murnaghan, Francis Dominic Jr. (Fourth Circuit)
ID-NC-0001-0005
Voorhees, Richard Lesley (W.D.N.C.)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Wilkinson, James Harvie III (Fourth Circuit)
ID-NC-0001-0005
Monitors/Masters Lottman, Michael S. (New York)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyles, Scott (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Brooks, Joyce Murphy (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Connette, Edward G. III (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-0003 | ID-NC-0001-0004 | ID-NC-0001-9000
Fillette, Theodore O. III (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-0004 | ID-NC-0001-9000
Greenblatt, Deborah (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0003 | ID-NC-0001-0004
Heinberg, Christine (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0004
Manus, Roger (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-0003 | ID-NC-0001-0004 | ID-NC-0001-0005 | ID-NC-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrose, Bruce S. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Broome, Dennis L. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Easley, Michael F. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0005
Gage, Robert H. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-9000
Hargett, Robert T. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Hayman, Wilson (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002 | ID-NC-0001-0003 | ID-NC-0001-0004
Holton, Doris J. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0003
McPherson, Michelle B. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0005 | ID-NC-0001-9000
O'Connell, William F. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-0002
Oliver, Jane Leigh (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0005
Parker, David McLean (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0004
Pomper, Diane Martin (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-9000
Rosenthal, Cathy J. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0002
Smith, Walter M. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001
Stevens, Catherine C. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001
Thornburg, Lacy Herman (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0002
Trepel, Jeff (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001
Watkins, Reginald (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001
Wilder, Raboteau T. Jr. (North Carolina)
ID-NC-0001-0001 | ID-NC-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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