University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name U.S. v. Tennessee MH-TN-0001
Docket / Court 96-2312 ( W.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Mental Health (Facility)
Case Summary
On March 15, 1996, the United States filed a lawsuit under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, against the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (DMH/MR) and the Memphis Mental Health Institute (MMHI), in the U. ... read more >
On March 15, 1996, the United States filed a lawsuit under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, against the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (DMH/MR) and the Memphis Mental Health Institute (MMHI), in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, Memphis Division. The government asked the court for injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants were depriving patients of MMHI of constitutional rights, privileges and immunities. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that the defendants failed to provide adequate medical care, failed to provide individualized psychiatric care and treatment, and failed to provide adequate trained direct care and professional staff.

The CRIPA investigation began in 1990. On November 2, 1990, the Department of Justice (DOJ) began sending internal memoranda recommending a CRIPA investigation of conditions at MMHI. The preliminary findings indicated that conditions there included inadequate psychiatric care and treatment, inadequate supervision and neglect caused by an inadequate number of professional and direct care staff, as well as general medical care deficiencies, including overuse and misuse of medication and an unsafe and unsanitary environment. On December 12, 1990, the DOJ sent the Governor of Tennessee a letter indicating an intention to investigate. And, on April 4, 1991, the DOJ sent another letter to the Governor presenting interim findings. In that letter, the DOJ indicated it found MMHI did not have a sufficient number of psychiatrists, nurses, or psychiatric technicians, and that DMH/MR planned to cut additional staff positions at MMHI. On February 6, 1992, the DOJ sent another letter to the Governor presenting its findings. In that letter, the DOJ indicated it found that MMHI failed to provide patients with adequate general and emergency medical care, had inadequate psychiatric care and medication practices, and employed improper and excessive use of physical restraints. Further, in its findings letter, DOJ demanded implementation of certain remedial measures.

Apparently, the parties began negotiating a settlement before the CRIPA lawsuit was filed. On March 15, 1996, the same day as the complaint was filed, the parties submitted a joint motion for entry of a consent decree. Under the settlement agreement the defendants agreed to implement all policies, systems, procedures and rules currently in place, to provide quarterly status reports, provide the government access to the facilities, records, patients, and employees of MMHI, and to confer in good faith on the provisions of the consent decree. Further, the consent decree contained provisions detailing staffing requirements, patient treatment and discharge plans, and non-psychiatric medical care.

On March 27, 1996, the District Court (Judge Julia S. Gibbons) approved the consent decree, and retained jurisdiction of the action until the consent decree was terminated with respect to all requirements. And, on May 21, 1997, the Court entered judgment in accordance with the consent decree and terminated the case, retaining jurisdiction for necessary enforcement of the decree. And, on September 18, 1998, the District Court (Judge Gibbons) granted the parties' joint motion for a stipulation and order, effectuating the consent decree.

On June 21, 2005, the District Court (Judge Bernice B. Donald) granted the parties' joint motion for an order partially terminating the consent decree and approved the parties' stipulation for supplemental relief.

We have no more information on this file.

Josh Altman - 06/30/2006
Megan Richardson - 07/23/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Individualized planning
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
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) Memphis Mental Health Institute
Tennessee Dept of Mental Health & Mental Retardation
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1996 - 2005
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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www.bazelon.org
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By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
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  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)
96-2312 (W.D. Tenn.)
MH-TN-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum: Recommendation to Investigate Memphis Mental Health Institute, Memphis, Tennessee
MH-TN-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/1990
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Interim Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Memphis Mental Health Institute, Memphis, Tennessee
MH-TN-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/1991
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Memphis Mental Health Institute, Memphis, Tennessee
MH-TN-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/1992
Correspondence re: Memphis Mental Health Institute, Memphis, Tennessee
MH-TN-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/17/1994
Complaint
MH-TN-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/13/1996
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Decree
MH-TN-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/1996
Judgment [ECF# 6] (W.D. Tenn.)
MH-TN-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/1997
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order [ECF# 8] (W.D. Tenn.)
MH-TN-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/18/1998
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 10] (W.D. Tenn.)
MH-TN-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Donald, Bernice Bouie Court not on record
MH-TN-0001-0009 | MH-TN-0001-9000
Gibbons, Julia Smith Court not on record
MH-TN-0001-0008 | MH-TN-0001-0010
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bryant, Edward G. (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0003
Dunne, John R. (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0001 | MH-TN-0001-0002 | MH-TN-0001-0003
Frohboese, Robinsue (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0005 | MH-TN-0001-0006
Hughes, Verlin (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0005 | MH-TN-0001-0006 | MH-TN-0001-0008 | MH-TN-0001-0009 | MH-TN-0001-9000
Lee, Bill Lann (California)
MH-TN-0001-0008
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0005 | MH-TN-0001-0006 | MH-TN-0001-0009 | MH-TN-0001-9000
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0005 | MH-TN-0001-0006
Peabody, Arthur E. Jr. (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0001 | MH-TN-0001-0004 | MH-TN-0001-0005 | MH-TN-0001-0006
Reno, Janet (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0005
Smith, Louisa A. (District of Columbia)
MH-TN-0001-0008
Defendant's Lawyers Burson, Charles W. (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0003 | MH-TN-0001-0004 | MH-TN-0001-0006
Coleman–Davis, Veronica F. (New York)
MH-TN-0001-0005
Franklin, Mary Beth (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0008
Hayden-Wood, Pamela A. (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0008
Heltin-Hann, Jennifer (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0008
Maloy, Kathleen A. (Tennessee)
MH-TN-0001-0006 | MH-TN-0001-0009 | MH-TN-0001-9000

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