On September 1986, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] notified the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [State], pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. §1997, that it was commencing an investigation into conditions at the Embreeville Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Embreeville was a State operated facility that provided care and treatment for residents with intellectual disabilities.
The investigation included tours of the facility in December 1986, April 1987 and March 1989 with physicians and a psychologists. DOJ's experts also examined resident records, reviewed numerous documents, interviewed facility administrators and staff, and observed and spoke with residents. Following several years of investigation, the DOJ issued its findings letter on February 9, 1990. The DOJ advised the State that it found constitutional violations at the Embreeville Center in the areas of 1. Inadequate training programs; and 2. Inappropriate use of psychotropic medication and shortage of registered nurses. The findings letter outlined proposed remedies to correct those problems.
Negotiations followed between the DOJ and the State to arrive at agreed reforms at Embreeville. Negotiations broke down in November 1990 when the State indicated that it would not voluntarily enter into a consent decree.
The DOJ conducted another tour of the facility in April 1991 and reviewed additional documents to determine whether conditions at Embreeville had improved. The continued investigation revealed other areas of grave concern at Embreeville. One example the DOJ uncovered concerned the death of a resident who suffered from cardiac and respiratory arrest. DOJ experts found that there was a 13 minute delay from the time that a resident was noted to have suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest until the time that a doctor was notified. It took an additional 10 minutes for emergency medical personnel to arrive. Those delays resulted in the resident's death.
The DOJ issued a subsequent findings letter in November 1991, outlining additional and continuing constitutional violations, which included inadequate medical care and abuse and neglect of Embreeville residents. The DOJ again advised the State of its willingness to enter into a negotiated consent decree to remedy the violations at Embreeville without litigation.
As the State refused to negotiate a settlement of the case, on April 21, 1993, the DOJ filed a lawsuit pursuant to CRIPA in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, challenging the care, conditions of confinement and habilitation of residents of Embreeville Center. The suit was styled U.S. v. Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 93-CV-2094.
On June 24, 1993, a group of Embreeville residents were granted leave by the District Court (Judge Clarence C. Newcomer) to intervene as a party plaintiff in the case.
Defendants moved to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim under CRIPA and failure of the DOJ to comply with CRIPA's pre-filling certification requirements. The District Court (Judge Newcomer) denied the motion. U.S. v. Pennsylvania, 832 F.Supp. 122 (E.D.Pa. 1993).
A similar lawsuit was filed on January 24, 1994 by individual plaintiffs, the Pennsylvania Protection Advocacy, Inc. and Arc-Pennsylvania in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, challenging conditions at the Embreeville Center. The suit was styled Nelson v. Martin, Civil Action No. 94-CV- 440. [ID-PA-4 of this collection].
On March 28, 1994, the District Court (Judge Newcomer) ordered that the Nelson case be consolidated with U.S. v. Pennsylvania. Case no. 94-CV- 440 was closed for statistical purposes.
The plaintiff class was certified by the District Court on April 26, 1994, with an amended order following on May 11, 1994. The parties proceeded with discovery and prepared the case for trial.
The District Court issued several pre-trial rulings, granting motions in limine filed by the DOJ. On first motion, the District Court held that the DOJ's burden of proof under CRIPA was the same as the individual plaintiffs in the case and that the DOJ was not required to prove "egregious or flagrant" conduct by defendants to prevail. U.S. v. Pennsylvania, 863F.Supp. 217 (E.D.Pa. 1994). On the DOJ's second limine motion, the District Court applied the doctrine of issue preclusion and held that Defendants were bound by the findings made by Judge Broderick in the case Halderman v. Pennhurst, 74-cv-1345 (E. D.Pa.1994), which involved some of the same issues. Specifically, the Court held that the defendants could not relitigate the following issues: 1) psychotropic medication practices at Embreeville were deficient; 2) the residents of Embreeville were unnecessarily segregated from the community and denied minimally adequate habilitation; 3) institutionalization had deleterious effects on those with intellectual disabilities and community placement benefits of such persons; and 4) services provided to persons with intellectual disabilities living in Philadelphia County were inadequate. U.S. v. Pennsylvania, 1994 WL 502352 (E.D.Pa. Sept. 12 1994).
Following the Court's pre-trial rulings, the parties settled the case on the eve of trial. A settlement hearing was held on November 29, 1994 and the District Court approved the Settlement Agreement the next day. U.S. v. Pennsylvania, 160 F.R.D. 46 (E.D.Pa. 1994). The Agreement called for the downsizing and eventual closure of the Embreeville Center by September 1997 and the phase out placement of all residents. By its terms, the Agreement was to be in force at least until 12 months after the placement of the last resident from Embreeville into the community. Litigation over attorneys' fees and costs followed, resulting in fee awards in excess of $250,000 to plaintiffs' attorneys.
On April 10, 1995, the Court appointed Edward R Skarnulis, Ph.D. as monitor, to oversee the remediation phase.
According to the PACER docket, a Stipulated Agreement was entered by the Court on March 20, 2000. A linked copy of the Stipulated Agreement was not available on PACER and its terms are therefore unknown.
The Stipulated Agreement was terminated and the case was dismissed agreement of the parties on January 5, 2005.
We have no further information on the case.Dan Dalton - 03/19/2007