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Case Name Williams v. Lesiak MH-MA-0003
Docket / Court 72-571 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On February 15, 1972, Harold Williams and other residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the center alleging that the conditions of confinement and ... read more >
On February 15, 1972, Harold Williams and other residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the center alleging that the conditions of confinement and inadequacy of treatment programs violated their rights under the Fifth, Eight, and Fourteenth Amendments. Conditions included cells which lacked sinks or toilets, inadequate medical care, and a lack of any activities or work release programs. Plaintiffs were represented by private attorneys.

This case was litigated with King v. Greenblatt (MH-MA-0004). In 1974, the district court (Judge Charles Edward Wyzanski, Jr.) entered two consent decrees in King and one in this case. The decrees placed the facility under the authority of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, prohibited defendants from using solitary confinement for purposes of punishment or discipline, and provided other constitutional guidelines. At the time of the consent decrees, conditions in the facility were very poor as a result of overcrowding, unsafe drinking water, lack of toilet facilities, obsolete heating and ventilation, inadequate staffing, and lack of recreational opportunities and facilities. Inmates brought many cases to enforce these decrees and conditions at the facility gradually improved.

There were tensions over the shared control of the facility by the Department of Corrections and the Department of Mental Health. After the state legislature recommended that control of the facility be with the Department of Corrections solely, the district court (Judge John J. McNaught) appointed a Special Master to consider the viability of the consent decrees. Later, legislation was passed granting control to the Department of Corrections. Judge McNaught officially consolidated the Williams and King cases in 1994 and appointed counsel for a class of 48 inmates who alleged constitutional violations in the facility.

The Department of Corrections presented the court with a proposed plan for administering the facility and in 1995, Judge McNaught directed the parties to reach a consensus on the rules and regulations that would govern the facility. That did not occur.

On October 31, 1996, Judge A. David Mazzone granted Massachusetts's motion to modify the decrees but denied a motion to vacate the previous decrees. On June 21, 1999, Judge Mazzone granted the motion to vacate the consent decrees, holding that that the conditions at the center that had been the basis of the decrees had been remediated. King v. Greenblatt, 53 F. Supp. 2d 117 (D. Mass. 1999). The court also found that the Department of Corrections had demonstrated the intent and ability to operate the facility in a manner consistent with the rights of plaintiff patients and the goals of treatment. Judge Mazzone ordered the case closed on that date.

Angela Heverling - 05/30/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Crowding / caseload
Bathing and hygiene
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, unspecified
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Massachusetts
Plaintiff Description Inmates/residents at the Treatment Center for Sexually Dangerous Persons in Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se 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
Order Duration 1974 - 1999
Filing Year 1972
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing MH-MA-0004 : King v. Greenblatt (D. Mass.)
72-571 (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/20/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (822 F.2d 1223)
MH-MA-0003-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/07/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Order on Requests for Attorneys' Fees (1989 WL 156949) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/22/1989
Reported Opinion (928 F.2d 1206)
MH-MA-0003-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/22/1991
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (1993 WL 818811) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/31/1993
Reported Opinion (52 F.3d 1)
MH-MA-0003-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/06/1995
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision (516 U.S. 863)
MH-MA-0003-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/02/1995
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (127 F.3d 190)
MH-MA-0003-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/10/1997
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (149 F.3d 9)
MH-MA-0003-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/07/1998
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum and Order (53 F.Supp.2d 117) (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/21/1999
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Bownes, Hugh Henry (D.N.H., First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0005
Breyer, Stephen Gerald (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
MH-MA-0003-0005 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Campbell, Levin Hicks (First Circuit, D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Coffin, Frank Morey (First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Lagueux, Ronald Rene (D.R.I.)
Lenk, Barbara A. (State Supreme Court)
Mazzone, A. David (D. Mass.)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
McNaught, John Joseph (D. Mass.)
Selya, Bruce Marshall (FISCR, D.R.I., First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Stahl, Norman H. (D.N.H., First Circuit)
Torruella, Juan R. (D.P.R., First Circuit)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0005
Monitors/Masters Gleason, Herbert P. (Massachusetts)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bass, Victor (Massachusetts)
Follett, Jeffrey S. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Keefe, Robert Dennis (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Novello, David P. (Massachusetts)
O'Connor, Francis Patrick (Massachusetts)
Perrelli, Katherine E. (Massachusetts)
Reilly, Stephen C. (Massachusetts)
Russell, Peter F. (Massachusetts)
Schreckinger, Steven L. (Massachusetts)
Scibelli, Anthony A. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Wadland, Joseph J. (Massachusetts)
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Douglas S. (Massachusetts)
Davis, Scott M. (Massachusetts)
Gray, Alexander G. Jr. (Massachusetts)
Harshbarger, Scott (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Hitt, John R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Mogilnicki, Eric J (Massachusetts)
Pardee, William L. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Shannon, James M. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0005 | MH-MA-0003-0006
Sorokin, Leo Theodore (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Wechsler, Peter T. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Yogman, Judith (Massachusetts)
Other Lawyers DeWolfe, Ronald (Massachusetts)
Donelan, Charles (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-0006 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Eisenberg, Beth (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Geiger, David R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0001 | MH-MA-0003-0002 | MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Handler, Jonathan I. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004 | MH-MA-0003-9000
Pingeon, James R. (Massachusetts)
MH-MA-0003-0003 | MH-MA-0003-0004
Reed, Sarah B. (Massachusetts)
Reinert, Anton R. (Massachusetts)

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