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Case Name Brewster v. Dukakis MH-MA-0001
Docket / Court 76-4423 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On December 15, 1976, residents of the Northampton State Hospital in Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Massachusetts in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had violated their ... read more >
On December 15, 1976, residents of the Northampton State Hospital in Massachusetts filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Massachusetts in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had violated their constitutional rights by failing to provide them with suitable treatment under the least restrictive conditions, by discriminating against them with respect to benefit allocation pursuant to federal statutory programs, failing to provide alternative housing arrangements, failing to provide adequate mental health care, and failing to provide programming for them.

On January 6, 1978, the parties entered into a Consent Decree in the case. The Decree provided for changes in the areas of programming, staffing, transportation, vocational training, job placement, medical care, counseling, provision of alternative care environments and housing arrangements, funding, and mental health care requirements.

On March 19, 1981, the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Judge Frank Harlan Freedman) found that the defendants had failed to comply with the terms of the Consent Decree by failing to release funding for the programs specified by the Decree in a timely manner. The Court ordered the defendants to release the funds and to account for all expenditures. The defendants appealed.

On August 19, 1981, the District Court (Judge Freedman) held that the plan proposed by the defendants for retraining all hospital and community employees was inadequate. The Court then ordered the state to develop a plan for a system of independently and legally trained advocates, all of whom would be paid by the state and capable of representing clients in connection with legal issues arising from their disability or status of prior or concurrent institutionalization. Brewster v. Dukakis, 520 F.Supp. 882 (D.Mass. 1981). The defendants appealed.

On November 16, 1981, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (Judges Levin Hicks Campbell, Hugh Henry Bownes, and Stephen Gerald Breyer) issues a temporary injunction to stay the District Court's order that the defendants must immediately release funding pursuant to the consent decree. On December 23, 1981, the District Court (Judge Freeman) issued an order compelling defendants to implement certain provisions of the Consent Decree and extending the time that the defendants had to obtain funding. The defendants appealed.

On March 24, 1982, the First Circuit (Judge Frank Morey Coffin) upheld the District Court's order with the modification that the defendants could not be required to go beyond what their good-faith professional best efforts could reasonably be expected to accomplish. Brewster v. Dukakis, 675 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1982).

On June 28, 1982, the First Circuit (Judge Breyer) vacated the District Court's order regarding the provision of a legal services program, holding that the District Court had no legal authority to require the Commonwealth to pay for a broad legal services program for people who are mentally ill or have an intellectual disability. Brewster v. Dukakis, 687 F.2d 495 (1st Cir. 1982).

On July 16, 1982, the District Court (Judge Freedman) ordered the defendants to pay $386,204.01 in attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. Brewster v. Dukakis, 544 F.Supp. 1069 (D.Mass. 1982). The defendants appealed. On March 14, 1986, the First Circuit (Judge Coffin) affirmed the District Court's attorney fee award, with a $5000 reduction of the fee. Brewster v. Dukakis, 786 F.2d 16 (1st Cir. 1986).

On March 12, 1987, the District Court (Judge Freedman) issued an order of disengagement, finding that the parties had substantially complied with the Consent Decree and holding that the case would be closed within three years if the Court found that the Decree had been fully accomplished within that time period.

On January 6, 1992, the District Court vacated the Consent Decree and dismissed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 01/03/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Least restrictive environment
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Classification / placement
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Payment for care
Reassessment and care planning
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Department of Mental Health
Northampton State Hospital
Plaintiff Description Residents of the Northampton State Hospital in Massachusetts
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1978 - 1992
Filed 12/15/1976
Case Closing Year 1992
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Second-Generation Deinstitutionalization, II: The Impact of Brewster v. Dukakis on Correlates of Community and Hospital Utilization
Date: August 1990
By: Jeffrey Geller, et al. (University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty)
Citation: 147 Am. J. Psychiatry 988 (1990)
[ Detail ]

  The Massachusetts Experience with Funded Deinstitutionalization: A Decade of Promises, Products and Problems Under the Brewster v. Dukakis Consent Decree
Date: 1989
By: Jeffrey Geller, et al. (University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty)
Citation: (1989)
[ Detail ]

  Brewster v. Dukakis: Developing Community Services Through Use of a Consent Decree
Date: June 1984
By: Robert L. Okin (University of California San Francisco Faculty)
Citation: 141 Am.J. Psychiatry 786 (1984)
[ Detail ]

76-4423 (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/1993
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Third Amended Complaint
MH-MA-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/1977
Final Consent Decree (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/06/1978
Findings and Order (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/19/1981
Memorandum (520 F.Supp. 882) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/19/1981
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order
MH-MA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/1981
Memorandum (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/1981
Order (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/1981
Opinion (675 F.2d 1)
MH-MA-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/24/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (687 F.2d 495)
MH-MA-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/28/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum (544 F.Supp. 1069) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/16/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (786 F.2d 16)
MH-MA-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/14/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/1987
Order of Disengagement (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/1987
Opinion (3 F.3d 488)
MH-MA-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/25/1993
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Aldrich, Bailey (D. Mass., First Circuit) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0013
Boudin, Michael (D.D.C., First Circuit) show/hide docs
Bownes, Hugh Henry (D.N.H., First Circuit) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0004 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (First Circuit, SCOTUS) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0004 | MH-MA-0001-0010
Campbell, Levin Hicks (D. Mass., First Circuit) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0004 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Coffin, Frank Morey (First Circuit) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Freedman, Frank Harlan (FISC, D. Mass.) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0002 | MH-MA-0001-0003 | MH-MA-0001-0005 | MH-MA-0001-0007 | MH-MA-0001-0008 | MH-MA-0001-0009 | MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012 | MH-MA-0001-9000
Pettine, Raymond James (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
Selya, Bruce Marshall (FISCR, D.R.I., First Circuit) show/hide docs
Torruella, Juan R. (D.P.R., First Circuit) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0014
Monitors/Masters Ponsor, Michael Adrian (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bone, Robert G. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012
Burnes, Nonnie S. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012 | MH-MA-0001-0014 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Costanzo, Cathy E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Costello, Jan C. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Fleischner, Robert D. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Jones, Boisfeuillet Jr. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Lesser, Thomas B. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Newman, William C. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0002 | MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012
Schwartz, Steven J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0001 | MH-MA-0001-0002 | MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012 | MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0014 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Defendant's Lawyers Barnico, Thomas A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0014 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Bellotti, Francis X. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0002 | MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Broad, Michael (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012
Harshbarger, Scott (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Mohl, Bruce E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0010 | MH-MA-0001-0015
Pardee, William L. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0013 | MH-MA-0001-0014
Rosenfeld, S. Stephen (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Valvo, Carl (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
White, Catherine A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
MH-MA-0001-0002 | MH-MA-0001-0011 | MH-MA-0001-0012
Other Lawyers Heins, Marjorie (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Hennessey, Patricia E. (New York) show/hide docs
Kogan, Terry S. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Leibensperger, Edward P. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Leubsdorf, John D. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Moriearty, Scott C. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Ogle, Kurt A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
Vance, Verne W. Jr. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs

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