On December 9, 1977, a group of residents at the Dr. Joseph H. Ladd School, a state facility for intellectually disabled and other handicapped individuals, filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs brought this action against the Rhode Island Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals (now the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals) and the Ladd School under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. The plaintiffs claimed that the Ladd School, which was home to approximately 750 residents, failed to provide suitable living conditions to its residents in violation of the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the Ladd School failed to provide residents with an individualized living program, provide safe and humane facilities, maintain adequate staffing, develop new facilities for transfer of residents into the community, and provide necessary medical and dental care. The plaintiffs claimed that as a result, the vast majority of residents had actually regressed and deteriorated since being admitted to the Ladd School. The plaintiffs also alleged that as a result of the Ladd School's actions, they had been denied benefits under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq., which requires that funds appropriated pursuant to the Act be spent to provide care and treatment in non-institutional facilities when possible. The plaintiffs requested injunctive and declaratory relief from the defendants' constitutional violations.
On April 6, 1979, the parties reached agreement on an interim consent decree, which required the defendants to develop a comprehensive plan on service for all intellectually disabled citizens of Rhode Island, with special emphasis on residents of the Ladd School. The plan would include development of a policy for providing suitable facilities, rehabilitation services, and dental and medical care for these disabled individuals. The comprehensive plan was submitted to the plaintiffs on July 5, 1979.
After additional discovery and discussion, the parties reached a final stipulation, which U.S. District Judge Francis Boyle ordered effective on April 29, 1982. The Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals agreed to provide services for the development, education, rehabilitation, and care of the intellectually disabled members of the plaintiff class. In addition, the Department would provide annual individualized assessments in accordance with Title XIX regarding whether individual residents could be placed in the community to reduce the resident population at the Ladd School. The stipulation also required a court order for placement in the Ladd School and that the Ladd School would serve only as a last resort for disabled individuals. The Ladd School agreed to maintain their facilities in a manner eligible for certification as an Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded under Title XIX. The stipulation allowed for a monitor to ensure the defendants' compliance with the stipulation. The defendants also agreed to pay the plaintiffs $48,000 for attorneys' fees and costs.
On December 15, 1985, after receiving a report from the Ladd Center Monitoring Committee, Judge Boyle ordered that the defendants reduce the resident population at the Ladd School to not more than 240 residents by January 1987. The defendants also agreed to pay the plaintiffs an additional $6,721 in attorneys' fees and costs.
In 1986, Rhode Island Governor Edward DiPrete announced the closing of the Ladd School. On November 17, 1987, the defendants moved to vacate the previous stipulation and to dismiss this action. In 1994, the Ladd School was finally closed.Margo Schlanger - 09/14/2006
John He - 11/19/2015