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Case Name Schindler v. O'Bannon MH-IN-0004
Docket / Court IP01-C-1678 -B/S ( S.D. Ind. )
State/Territory Indiana
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
This case seems related to state litigation that occurred following the State of Indiana's decision to close the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center in Butlerville, Indiana. We don't know much about the federal litigation, but we do know that the case ended after the court granted the parties' ... read more >
This case seems related to state litigation that occurred following the State of Indiana's decision to close the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center in Butlerville, Indiana. We don't know much about the federal litigation, but we do know that the case ended after the court granted the parties' joint motion to dismiss in 2004. More information about the background events as well as the related state litigation is given below.

On July 27, 1998, the Attorney General of the United States, by and through the Acting Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, notified the Governor of Indiana of her intention to investigate allegations of unconstitutional and unlawful conditions at the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center (MSDC) and Fort Wayne Developmental Center (FWDC). The investigation was conducted pursuant to the Attorney General's authority under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).

In 1999, the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issued its findings letter, in which the Department notified Indiana of it's belief that persons residing in or confined in either of these two institutions were being subjected to conditions that deprived them of rights, privileges and immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States and federal statute.

On January 28, 2001, the Department and the State of Indiana entered into a stipulation of settlement with the United States. Among other things, that settlement required the State to take steps to ensure not only the safety of persons at the two facilities, but also the safety of those persons placed in alternative community settings. The settlement also established a plan for the State to follow to achieve these goals.

More information on this litigation discussed above can be found here.

It was this series of events that led to the current litigation. Around April or May of 2001, the State of Indiana announced its intention to close MSDC by 2003, and transfer the current residents to other facilities. At the time, the facility still had approximately 300 residents.

In October of 2001, a class of former and current patients of the institution brought claims in court seeking to enjoin the State from closing the center. We don't have any information on the complaint filed in federal court, but a brief summary of the related state court litigation is given below. Given that the same attorney handled both lawsuits, it is likely that the plaintiff class in this federal litigation would have been the same as the plaintiffs in the state litigation discussed below.

The state court litigation:

O'Bannon v. Schindler, 796 N.E.2d 335, Ind. App., Sep. 26, 2003, rehearing denied (Nov 10, 2003), rehearing denied (Dec 11, 2003),
Decision clarified on rehearing by Kernan v. Schindler ex rel, 801 N.E.2d 189, Ind.App., Dec 30, 2003, rehearing granted (Dec 30, 2003).

In state court, the plaintiffs, a class of former and current patients of the institution, brought a class action complaint seeking to enjoin the State from closing the facility until other adequate and appropriate facilities could be provided. The plaintiffs alleged that they were "medically frail" and "at risk" individuals, and that the rush State had failed to develop or identify any community-based facilities that provide suitable care for the class members. The complaint further alleged that members of the class who had been moved from MSDC already were residing in inadequate facilities as a result of the State's rush to closure. The plaintiffs sought relief under state law only.

The trial court granted a preliminary injunction, enjoining the state from removing, transferring, or discharging any class member from their current residence at MSDC. The court also enjoined the State from restricting in any manner the return to MSDC of any former patient that was transferred or discharged and now wants to return. The court based this on its finding that no existing alternative facilities could provide the same level of care and staffing as MSDC and that the injunction was necessary to preserve the status quo until such time that appropriate facilities existed. The injunction included other provisions regarding staffing, but the two mentioned here are the only aspects that the Court of Appeals of Indiana did not strike after an appeal.

The federal court litigation:

We know that the federal complaint was filed around the same time as the state complaint. Beyond that, we don't have access to any of the orders from the federal court proceedings, but according to the docket information we do have the litigation at the federal level went on for three years, consisting mostly of discovery disputes and other procedural issues. The federal litigation ended in August of 2004, after the court granted the parties' joint motion to dismiss the case.

Though do not have information on the federal litigation, we do know that the Muscatatuck facility did eventually close in 2005.

Chris Pollack - 04/12/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, unspecified
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action
Defendant(s) Governor of the State of Indiana
Plaintiff Description Class of current and former patients of the Muscatatuck State Developmental Center.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Filing Year 2001
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing MH-IN-0003 : United States v. Indiana (S.D. Ind.)
Docket(s)
IP01-C-1678 -B/S (S.D. Ind.)
MH-IN-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/24/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Kite, Donald B. Sr. (Indiana) show/hide docs
MH-IN-0004-9000
McNamar, David F. (Indiana) show/hide docs
MH-IN-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Abel, Arend J. (Indiana) show/hide docs
MH-IN-0004-9000

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