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Case Name Cameron v. Tomes MH-MA-0002
Docket / Court 86-3607 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On December 2, 1986, an involuntarily committed patient at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous (the "Center") filed a lawsuit under state contract law against Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, ... read more >
On December 2, 1986, an involuntarily committed patient at the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous (the "Center") filed a lawsuit under state contract law against Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Boston Division. The plaintiff, represented at first by himself and later by private counsel, asked the court for injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants violated his federal constitutional rights by failing to provide him with minimally adequate treatment. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that the defendants persisted in rigidly applying the Center's rules and policies to him, despite the defendants' actual knowledge that the strict enforcement of those rules and policies interfered with his ability to respond to treatment.

Previously, in 1978, the plaintiff pled guilty to charges of rape in Vermont and Massachusetts. In 1984, while serving at MCI Walpole, the plaintiff was adjudged a sexually dangerous person and committed to the Center in November 1985. The plaintiff's criminal sentence expired on February 15, 1992.

After a six-day nonjury trial that commenced November 1991 and ended in January 1992, on February 14, 1992, the District Court (Judge Robert E. Keeton) found for the plaintiff. Cameron v. Tomes, 783 F. Supp. 1511 (D. Mass. 1992). The Court held that rigid application of some of the Center's rules and policies was an unconstitutional failure to exercise professional judgment. The Court (a) ordered the Restrictive Integration Review Board to review the plaintiff's commitment to the Center to determine appropriate conditions of confinement and evaluate his current sexual dangerousness, (b) required the defendants to allow the plaintiff to receive treatment from the Veterans Administration for a list of ailments, (c) enjoined the defendants from transporting the plaintiff by armed correctional officers and in shackles, (d) required that a qualified decision-maker consider the plaintiff's appointment requests, (e) enjoined the defendants from using the "Extraction Team" against the plaintiff without consulting a clinician, (f) enjoined the defendants from enforcing the current disciplinary system, (g) enjoined the defendants from conducting oral cavity searches, (h) enjoined any requirement of double-bunking, and (i) required the defendants to modify a handicapped accessible room to provide reasonable space for the plaintiff to use his wheelchair and walker. The defendants appealed.

On March 31, 1993, the First Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Michael Boudin) modified and affirmed the District Court's February 14, 1992, order. Cameron v. Tomes, 990 F.2d 14 (1st Cir. 1993). The Court held that the plaintiff was entitled to injunctive relief requiring reappraisal of his personal dangerousness and of the general conditions of his confinement. The Court adjusted and delimited the future effects of the District Court's injunction by removing the transportation security provisions as well as those enjoining the Center from enforcing the current disciplinary system.

We have no more information on this file.

Josh Altman - 06/28/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Classification / placement
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Mass. Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous
Plaintiff Description Involuntarily committed patient alleging violation of his constitutional rights due to the failure of Department of Mental Health to provide him with minimally adequate treatment
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1992 - n/a
Filing Year 1986
Case Closing Year 1997
Case Ongoing No
86-3607 (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/25/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (783 F.Supp. 1511) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0002-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/14/1992
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (990 F.2d 14)
MH-MA-0002-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/31/1993
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Boudin, Michael (D.D.C., First Circuit)
Coffin, Frank Morey (First Circuit)
Keeton, Robert Ernest (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0002-0001 | MH-MA-0002-9000
Selya, Bruce Marshall (FISCR, D.R.I., First Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Keefe, Robert Dennis (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0002-0001 | MH-MA-0002-0002 | MH-MA-0002-9000
Matuschak, Mark G. (Massachusetts)
Rocchio, David M. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0002-0001 | MH-MA-0002-0002 | MH-MA-0002-9000
Savage, N. Roland (Massachusetts)
Defendant's Lawyers Harshbarger, Scott (Massachusetts)
Kaczynski, Michelle (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0002-0001 | MH-MA-0002-9000
Massing, Gregory (Massachusetts)
Medvedow, Elisabeth (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0002-0001 | MH-MA-0002-0002 | MH-MA-0002-9000

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