On April 21, 1987, the Executive Director of the, Kanawha Putnam Association for Retarded Children and an individual plaintiff, represented by Mountain State Justice, Inc., filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) to redress alleged deprivation of the constitutional rights of all mentally retarded children and young adults institutionalized by the State of West Virginia.
Plaintiffs alleged deprivation of their constitutional rights and statutory rights under the Developmentally Disabled Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Community Mental Health Center Act.
Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to enjoin defendants keeping plaintiffs institutionalized and compel them to provide plaintiffs with appropriate education, treatment and care, and services in a foster home or other community-based facility in their home communities. Plaintiffs also sought monetary damages in the amount of $20,000 for each plaintiff.
The District Court (Judge John T. Copenhaver, Jr.) certified the class as consisting of all citizens of the State of West Virginia under the age of twenty-three (23) years who suffer from mental retardation and who were or would be institutionalized by reason of the failures of the defendants to place them in foster homes or other community-based facilities.
Defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction, that plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and that the Court should abstain from hearing the matter. On June 10, 1980, the District Court (Judge Copenhaver) denied defendants' motion. Medley v. Ginsberg, 492 F.Supp. 1294 (S.D.W.Va., 1980).
Following denial of defendants' motion, the parties continued pre-trial discovery. The docket reflects that at Court status conferences of September 23 and October 23, 1980, settlement was discussed and the Court directed the parties to submit proposed settlement plans/offers. Defendants filed an Offer of Judgment on November 21, 1980, which was accepted on December 16, 1980. Class notification was issued and the District Court (Judge Copenhaver) approved the settlement and entered a Consent Decree on October 8, 1981. In accordance with the Decree, the State filed "A Comprehensive Plan for Community Based Services for Developmentally Disabled Persons in West Virginia" on November 2, 1980. As a copy of the Consent Decree was not available, its exact terms were unknown at the time of this summary.
The District Court pre-PACER docket chronicles the procedural history of the implementation phase from 1981 to 1993. During that period, the plaintiffs filed numerous motions to for contempt and/or to compel compliance with the Consent Decree. The District Court, in turn, issued various orders and memorandums directing compliance and approving reform plans. Several state agencies were involved in the implementation process, including the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Department of Education. The "Medley Management Team" was created to coordinate the implementation efforts and it reported its progress to the Court on a periodic basis. Gail Falk was designated as the Court Monitor.
Our copy of the automated PACER docket for the case contains consistent entries for the period of 1989 until 2001. (There were, however, no hyper-links to filed documents). Those entries reflect that the implementation phase continued through 2001.
On January 12, 2001 the District Court (Judge Copenhaver) held that the State Superintendent of Schools was in substantial compliance with the Consent Decree entered October 8, 1981 and granted in part and denied in part the W.V. Department of Education's motion to dissolve the Consent Decree. The State Superintendent of Schools and the W.V. Dept. of Education were dismissed as a parties to the action.
On January 16, 2001 the District Court allowed plaintiffs to add the W.V. Division of Rehabilitation Services as a party to the case. The Court denied without prejudice the W.V. Department of Health and Human Resources' motion to dissolve the Consent Decree, indicting that the motion could be renewed. The Court set a follow-up conference for the purpose of identifying the remaining compliance issues and plans for resolving them. That conference occurred on January 25, 2001. Pursuant to the conference, W.V. Division of Rehabilitation Services filed a report with the Court on March 20, 2001 and W.V. Dept. of Health and Human Resources filed its report on March 21, 2001. No further activity was noted on the PACER docket.Dan Dalton - 03/22/2007