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Case Name U.S. v. State of Connecticut MH-CT-0003
Docket / Court 3:09-CV-85 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On December 19, 2005 the Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, initiated an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Connecticut Valley Hospital (CVH), the largest of five state-run psychiatric hospitals in the State of Connecticut, pursuant to the Civil Rights of ... read more >
On December 19, 2005 the Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, initiated an investigation into the conditions and practices at the Connecticut Valley Hospital (CVH), the largest of five state-run psychiatric hospitals in the State of Connecticut, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 (CRIPA).

A report of findings was submitted to the governor of Connecticut on August 6, 2007. The DOJ’s investigation found that CVH regularly failed to: (1) adequately protect patients from harm and undue restraints; (2) provide adequate psychiatric and psychological services; and (3) ensure adequate discharge planning and placement in the most integrated setting appropriate to each patient’s individualized needs. The report formally put CVH on notice that failure to improve conditions would result in a lawsuit.

On January 20, 2009, the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of Connecticut and its Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut for the aforementioned pattern of practices at CVH, that violated the constitutional and federal statutory rights of patients under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997 (CRIPA). The lawsuit was filed along with a settlement agreement and joint motion to dismiss.  Judge Alvin W. Thompson approved the settlement on July 8, 2009 and conditionally dismissed the suit.

In the settlement, Connecticut agreed to a wide variety of practice changes and a period of supervised operation. The state agreed to provide care and treatment “based on professional standards of practice that shall seek to: A. ameliorate symptoms such that a less restrictive locus of treatment may safely be employed; B. strengthen and support individuals’ rehabilitation and recovery; and C. enable individuals and grow and develop in ways benefiting their health and well-being.”

The settlement called for an environment that maximizes safety and is predicated on respect between the staff and those whom they serve. In addition, it mandated implementation of integrated treatment plans and interdisciplinary staff teams to increase the efficacy of treatment provided. Furthermore, the settlement outlined extensive changes in the psychiatric and psychological care provided in order to increase the safety and wellbeing of patients while also reducing the risk of harm and suicide that was extensive at CVH. Across the board, the settlement emphasized that care provided be consistent with generally accepted professional standards of care and that the environment at CVH be sufficiently humane to reduce the risk of harm. The settlement outlined a 48-month period of supervised implementation after which the agreement would terminate provided that CVH had demonstrated substantial compliance with the terms.

On September 25, 2013, the Court approved a notice of substantial compliance with certain terms of the settlement agreement and extension of termination that was filed by the State. On May 22, 2015, the Court approved the State’s notice of substantial compliance and motion to terminate the settlement agreement, effectively terminating the Court’s ability to enforce the agreement.

Although the notice of substantial compliance and motion to terminate was accepted and granted, news suggests that as late as mid-2017, patients at the Connecticut Valley Hospital continued to suffer from widespread abuse. On September 6, 2017, the Connecticut State Police announced the arrests of nine CVH employees on charges on cruelty to persons and disorderly conduct. Reports from the Associated Press and Channel 3 Eyewitness News (the New Haven area CBS news affiliate) detail violence, humiliation, and sexual harassment suffered by inmates at the hands of CVH employees.

Andrew Plague - 10/10/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Aggressive behavior
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Failure to supervise
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Connecticut
Connecticut Valley Hospital
Plaintiff Description Civil Rights Division of the 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 Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 2009 - 2013
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Pierce County v. Washington
www.bazelon.org
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Jane Doe v. Hunter College
http://www.bazelon.org/jane-doe-v-hunter-college/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Office of Protection and Advocacy v. State of Conneticut
http://www.bazelon.org/opa-v-ct/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  From Hospitals to Prisons: A New Explanation
http://cornelllawreview.org/clronline/from-hospitals-to-prisons-a-new-explanation
Date: 2017
By: Fredrick E. Vars & Shelby B. Calambokidis (Cornell Law Review)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:09-cv-85 (D. Conn.)
MH-CT-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
MH-CT-0003-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date:
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Re: CRIPA Investigation of the Connecticut Valley Hospital, Middletown, Connecticut
MH-CT-0003-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/06/2007
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Settlement Agreement
MH-CT-0003-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/20/2009
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Notice of Substantial Compliance With Certain Terms of The Settlement Agreement and Extension of Termination
MH-CT-0003-0004.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/10/2013
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Judges Thompson, Alvin W. (D. Conn.)
MH-CT-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Becker, Grace Chung (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0002 | MH-CT-0003-0003
Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0002 | MH-CT-0003-0003
Dean, Kerry Krentler (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0002 | MH-CT-0003-0003 | MH-CT-0003-9000
Hughes, John B. (Connecticut)
MH-CT-0003-0002 | MH-CT-0003-9000
Jackson, Shelley (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0004
Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0001
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0003 | MH-CT-0003-0004 | MH-CT-0003-9000
Mukasey, Michael B. (New York)
MH-CT-0003-0002
Preston, Judy C. (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0002 | MH-CT-0003-0003
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
MH-CT-0003-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Hoell, Jacqueline S. (Connecticut)
MH-CT-0003-9000
Ring, Thomas (Connecticut)
MH-CT-0003-9000
Salton, Henry A. (Connecticut)
MH-CT-0003-0004 | MH-CT-0003-9000

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