On September 26, 1980, the Association for Retarded Citizens of North Dakota (ARC-ND) and six mentally retarded citizens filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota against the state. ARC-ND sought declaratory and injunctive relief regarding treatment and conditions in the Grafton State School's (later named the Developmental Center) facilities in Grafton and Dunseith. ARC-ND was represented by a private attorney and Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota.
On November 4, 1981, prior to a trial, the court entered a consent decree. The defendants agreed to improve the conditions in the school by limiting the use of medications, ceasing corporal punishment, reducing the use of physical restraints, instituting proper feeding programs, conducting a skill and needs inventory on all residents, and hiring an additional 125 personnel. The court entered a separate order granting attorneys' fees to plaintiffs.
The defendants failed to comply with either order and a trial was held in early 1982. The district court (Judge Bruce M. Van Sickle) entered a broad permanent injunction based on violations of the plaintiff's due process rights, rights to privacy and free associations, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and state law. Association for Retarded Citizens v. Olson, 561 F. Supp. 473 (D.N.D. 1982). The court found that North Dakota spent less per resident than any other state and there were significant problems related to the treatment of residents. The order required defendants to provide individualized habilitation plans for residents, provide appropriate food, shelter, and medical care, and provide an environment that assured privacy rights for residents. This order was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Myron H. Bright). Association for Retarded Citizens v. Olson, 713 F.2d 1384, 1396 (8th Cir. 1983).
In March of 1990, the district court entered an order affirming its 1982 order with a modification requiring the state to meet the standards of the Accreditation Council on Services for People with Developmental Disabilities. The defendants appealed and the Court of Appeals (Judge James B. Loken) remanded so the district court could consider a 1984 Supreme Court decision holding that federal courts cannot enjoin state institutions on the basis of state law. Association for Retarded Citizens v. Sinner, 942 F.2d 1235 (8th Cir. 1991).
On remand, the district court appointed a Panel of Masters to conduct hearings and report to the court. The district court (Judge Van Sickle) adopted the panel's report in its entirety and found that the state had made significant improvements and no longer violated the federal rights of its mentally retarded residents. Association for Retarded Citizens v. Schafer, 872 F. Supp. 689 (D.N.D. 1995). The court terminated and dismissed the permanent injunction and granted substantial attorneys' fees to plaintiffs.
The state appealed a part of the award of attorneys' fees and the Court of Appeals (Judge James B. Loken) reversed, holding that the fees were not reasonable because the plaintiffs expended fees when there was little chance for success. Association for Retarded Citizens v. Schafer, 83 F.3d 1008 (8th Cir. 1996). The Court of Appeals did not remand; rather, it determined that the plaintiffs had already received sufficient fees. On November 11, 1996, the Supreme Court denied certiorari. N.D. Ass'n of Retarded Citizens v. Schafer, 519 U.S. 993 (U.S. 1996).
We have no further information on this matter.Angela Heverling - 05/07/2007