University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name USA v. Arkansas ID-AR-0002
Docket / Court 4:09-cv-33 ( E.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On April 24, 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent a findings letter to Arkansas's governor, advising him of the results of the Spring 2003, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the Conway Human Development Center ("CHDC"), a facility housing ... read more >
On April 24, 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division ("DOJ") sent a findings letter to Arkansas's governor, advising him of the results of the Spring 2003, DOJ investigation of conditions and practices at the Conway Human Development Center ("CHDC"), a facility housing developmentally disabled persons, including those with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and/or autism. The investigation occurred under the authority of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ("CRIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 1997. DOJ and expert consultants visited the facility, reviewed a wide array of documents there, and conducted interviews with personnel and residents. The letter commended CHDC staff for providing a high level of cooperation during the investigation, as well as the dedication many showed for resident well-being. Nevertheless, the investigation found deficiencies in resident care at CHDC, in that conditions and services at CDHC substantially departed from generally accepted standards of care. Constitutional and federal statutory rights of residents at CHDC were violated in several respects, according to the DOJ.

DOJ concluded that deficiencies in conditions of resident care and treatment at CHDC existed as to multiple topic areas, including CDHC's causing residents significant harm or risk of harm through inadequate: (1) health care (termed "grossly deficient," with particular problems in "terribly inadequate" medical and neurological care, physical and nutritional management and therapy services, and infection control and medication administration practices); (2) habilitative treatment services (e.g., "grossly deficient" and unreviewed restraint practices; "critically inadequate" activity programming and psychiatric services; inadequately trained and supervised staff; ineffective behavior programs; invalid data collection and recording practices; poor medication management); and (3) protection from harm policies (e.g., failure to conduct mortality reviews after resident deaths, meager investigation of abuse or neglect incidents, inadequacies in residents' rights and consent policies); as well as CHDC's (4) failure to provide required special education and related services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1401; and (5) failure to provide services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to individual residents' needs, pursuant to statutory obligations imposed by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131 et seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. The letter provided details of deficiencies for all five of these categories.

Minimally-acceptable remedial measures for each of the five categories were outlined in the letter, which concluded by inviting continued further collaboration in implementing the remediation. The letter also provided notice that, absent a resolution of federal concerns, the DOJ would file a CRIPA lawsuit to compel correction of the identified deficiencies at CHDC.

On January 16, 2009, the DOJ filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The complaint mirrored the findings letter. The State filed an answer on February 17, 2009.

Over a year later, the U.S. filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on March 9, 2010. Arkansas opposed the motion, and on April 7, 2010, the court (Judge J. Leon Holmes) denied the motion. Both parties then filed Motions for Partial Summary Judgment, which were denied by the court on July 30, 2010.

On August 27, 2010, a group of parents and guardians of residents of CHDC filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the state.

A six-week bench trial was held in September 2010. The court allowed the parties to extend the filing period for post-trial briefs to provide time for the transcripts to be prepared. The court issued its findings on June 8, 2011. The court found that the U.S. had not met its burden under the first claim for relief, that the practices at CHDC departed from generally accepted professional standards. The court also found the U.S. failed to meet its burden for the second claim for relief, that CHDC was not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). On the U.S.'s third claim for relief, the court found that DOJ had shown that CHDC was not providing free appropriate public education for resident children. However, because CHDC had submitted a proposal for changing their education policy to the appropriate state agency (Arkansas Department of Education) at the time of trial, the court did not find it necessary to take any action. Accordingly, the court dismissed the action with prejudice. The court denied, however, the state's later request for attorneys' fees and only awarded costs in the amount of $150,580. Although the U.S. did not prove its case during the bench trial, the court found that CHDC had made certain changes in policies and practices, most likely as a result of the DOJ investigation. Apparently, the court did not want to find the DOJ's claims frivolous or groundless and have to grant attorney's fees to the defendants. The case is now closed.

Elizabeth Daligga - 07/25/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Disability
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
General
Classification / placement
Education
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Reassessment and care planning
Restraints : physical
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Dementia
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Autism
Cerebral palsy
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
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) State of Arkansas
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Justice
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Confession of Judgment
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing ID-AR-0003 : U.S. v. Arkansas (E.D. Ark.)
Docket(s)
09-0033 (E.D. Ark.) 02/27/2012
ID-AR-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
CRIPA Investigation of Conway Human Developmental Center in Arkansas 04/21/2004
ID-AR-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Complaint 01/16/2009
ID-AR-0002-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer and Affirmative Defenses 02/17/2009
ID-AR-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of United States' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 03/09/2010
ID-AR-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief in Support of "Defendants' Motion to Strike Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction, or, in the Alternative, Defendants' Motion for an Enlargement of Time to Respond to Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction" 03/23/2010
ID-AR-0002-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 04/07/2010 (2010 WL 1408818) (E.D. Ark.)
ID-AR-0002-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Post-Trial Brief 02/10/2011
ID-AR-0002-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Post-Trial Brief 02/10/2011
ID-AR-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law 06/08/2011 (794 F.Supp.2d 935) (E.D. Ark.)
ID-AR-0002-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 02/06/2012 (2012 WL 370088) (E.D. Ark.)
ID-AR-0002-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Holmes, James Leon (E.D. Ark.)
ID-AR-0002-0006 | ID-AR-0002-0009 | ID-AR-0002-0010 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Jones, Henry L. Jr. (E.D. Ark.) [Magistrate]
ID-AR-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Acosta, R. Alexander (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0001
Becker, Grace Chung (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0003
Beebe, Mike (Arkansas)
ID-AR-0002-0001
Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0003
Campbell, Isaac R. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Cheng, Christopher N. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0003 | ID-AR-0002-0007 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Coles, Arethea (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0003 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Cummins, H.E. Bud III (Arkansas)
ID-AR-0002-0001 | ID-AR-0002-0003
Cuncannan, Jacqueline (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Dean, Kerry Krentler (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0003 | ID-AR-0002-0004 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Donnelly, Matthew J. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Herman, Vincent P. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
May, Nicholas M. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Mukasey, Michael B. (New York)
ID-AR-0002-0003
Pence, Richard M. Jr. (Arkansas)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0003 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Schwei, Daniel (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Tayloe, Benjamin O. (District of Columbia)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0003 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Elias, Cordelia M. (Pennsylvania)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Freno, Lori (Arkansas)
ID-AR-0002-0002 | ID-AR-0002-0005 | ID-AR-0002-0008 | ID-AR-0002-9000
McDaniel, Dustin (Arkansas)
ID-AR-0002-0002
York, Thomas B. (Pennsylvania)
ID-AR-0002-0005 | ID-AR-0002-0008 | ID-AR-0002-9000
Zaycosky, Donald B. (Pennsylvania)
ID-AR-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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