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Case Name Lelsz v. Kavanaugh ID-TX-0001
Docket / Court 85-2462 ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On November 27, 1974, the named plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, challenging the adequacy of conditions, care, and habilitation at the Austin, Denton and Fort Worth, Texas state schools for ... read more >
On November 27, 1974, the named plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, challenging the adequacy of conditions, care, and habilitation at the Austin, Denton and Fort Worth, Texas state schools for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to provide less restrictive community alternatives for residents, thereby effectively forcing them into large institutions. Plaintiffs alleged that the conditions at the large institutions were wholly inadequate and that they had been subjected to: diseases, neglect, excessive medication, unnecessary restraint, unsafe buildings, inadequate medical and dental care, and physical abuse from other residents and staff in violation of their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including the forced closure of the Austin, Denton and Fort Worth institutions.

In 1981, the case was certified as a class action. The class consisted of the residents of Austin, Denton and Fort Worth institutions. The class was subsequently amended to include residents at the state school at San Antonio.

In 1983, the parties reached a settlement. The Resolution and Settlement ("R&S") of the parties was approved by the District Court on July 19, 1983. The R&S provided for various corrective action to be taken by the State in a wide range of areas. It specifically required that the State to "provide each member of the plaintiff class with the least restrictive alternative living conditions possible consistent with the person's particular circumstances, including age, degree of intellectual disability and handicapping condition." The R&S also called for the appointment of an Expert Consultant to monitor the implementation process. Dr. Linda O'Neall was appointed the Expert Consultant on March 19, 1984. Dr. O'Neall was subsequently appointed as Special Master. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 112 F.R.D. 367 (N.D.Tex.1986).

The case was transferred to District Judge Barefoot Sanders on November 29, 1985.

In 1985, Defendants sought to modify certain provisions of the R&S. The District Court (Judge Barefoot Sanders) denied their motion. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 629 F.Supp. 1487 (N.D.Tex.1986). Defendants appealed.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the District Court lacked jurisdiction to compel the State to set up community facilities and therefore the provisions of the R&S which required the State to do so were invalid. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 807 F.2d 1243, 1255 (5th Cir.), rehearing en banc denied 815 F.2d 1034 (5th Cir.1987).

Following remand, the District Court held an evidentiary hearing on June 29, 1987 through July 7, 1987 on plaintiffs' motion to compel the State's compliance with the R & S. The District Court found that the State had violated numerous provisions of the R&S and held the State in contempt. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 673 F.Supp. 828 (N.D.Tex.1987).

Shortly after the contempt hearing, the parties agreed to an Implementation Agreement, which specified standards and actions for the State to achieve in order to be in compliance with the R&S, including those set by the Accreditation Council on Developmental Disabilities ("ACDD"). The Agreement also contained specific "Interim Measures" regarding minimum services to be provided at the institutions. The District Court approved and entered the Implementation Agreement on October 15, 1987.

After the Implementation Agreement went into effect, the parties engaged in years of contested litigation over numerous compliance issues. On May 20, 1991, the Court removed the defendants' lead attorney from the case, due to repeated improper litigation tactics. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 137 F.R.D. 646 (N.D.Tex.1991).

On the eve of a contempt hearing in August of 1991, the parties reached a settlement of the disputed issues. Following a fairness hearing, the Court approved Settlement Agreement of the parties on December 30, 1991. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 783 F.Supp. 286 (N.D.Tex.1991) aff'd 983 F.2d 1061 (5thth Cir. 1993).

On August 15, 1995, the school at Forth Worth was closed. Following the closure, defendants moved to dismiss the case. After a hearing on October 13,1995, the District Court (Judge Sanders) dismissed the case with prejudice. Lelsz v. Kavanagh, 903 F.Supp. 1037 (N.D.Tex.1995).

The PACER docket is incomplete, but it does not contain any entries after 1995. The case seems to be done.

Dan Dalton - 04/18/2007

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Assault/abuse by staff
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Individualized planning
Neglect by staff
Restraints : chemical
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Developmental disability without intellectual disability
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Austin State School
Denton State School
Fort Worth State School
San Antonio State School
Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation
Plaintiff Description Mentally retarded residents of the Austin, Denton, Fort Worth and San Antonio, Texas institutions.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1983 - 1995
Filing Year 1974
Case Closing Year 1995
Case Ongoing No
85-2462 (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/1995
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion (98 F.R.D. 11) (E.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/21/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (710 F.2d 1040)
ID-TX-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/13/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Order (629 F.Supp. 1487) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/04/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Order Appointing Special Master (112 F.R.D. 367) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/21/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (807 F.2d 1243)
ID-TX-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/21/1987
Source: Google Scholar
On Petitions for Rehearing and Suggestions for Rehearing En Banc (815 F.2d 1034)
ID-TX-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/04/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order (673 F.Supp. 828) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/13/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (824 F.2d 372)
ID-TX-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/14/1987
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision (483 U.S. 1057)
ID-TX-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/02/1987
Source: Westlaw
Memorandum Opinion and Order (137 F.R.D. 646) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/20/1991
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order (783 F.Supp. 286) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/30/1991
Source: Google Scholar
ID-TX-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/1992
Opinion [Dismissing Appeal] (983 F.2d 1061)
ID-TX-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/11/1993
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (510 U.S. 906)
ID-TX-0001-0019.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/04/1993
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (510 U.S. 1004)
ID-TX-0001-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/29/1993
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (510 U.S. 1101)
ID-TX-0001-0017.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/24/1994
Settlement Agreement
ID-TX-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/1995
Memorandum Opinion and Order (903 F.Supp. 1037) (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/02/1995
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Blackmun, Harry Andrew (Eighth Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Davis, Leonard E. (E.D. Tex.)
Garza, Emilio M. (W.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
Gee, Thomas Gibbs (Fifth Circuit)
ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0012
Ginsburg, Ruth Bader (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Higginbotham, Patrick Errol (N.D. Tex., Fifth Circuit)
Jones, Edith Hollan (Fifth Circuit)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007
Justice, William Wayne (E.D. Tex.)
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
O'Connor, Sandra Day (SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Reavley, Thomas Morrow (Fifth Circuit)
ID-TX-0001-0005 | ID-TX-0001-0012
Rehnquist, William Hubbs (SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Sanders, Harold Barefoot Jr. (N.D. Tex.)
ID-TX-0001-0004 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0010 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-0015 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Scalia, Antonin (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Smith, Jerry Edwin (Fifth Circuit)
Souter, David Hackett (First Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Stevens, John Paul (Seventh Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Thomas, Clarence (D.C. Circuit, SCOTUS)
ID-TX-0001-0017 | ID-TX-0001-0019 | ID-TX-0001-0020
Wisdom, John Minor (Fifth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Albracht, Joselle (Texas)
Bussiere, Alice (California)
ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0016
Garrett, Brenda J (Texas)
Green, Janice L. (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-0016
Hoffman, Barbara (Pennsylvania)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0009
Johnson, Vicki L (Texas)
Shaw, David C. (Connecticut)
ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Statman, Rona (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0010
Defendant's Lawyers Allan, Martha (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-0016
Bright, Lou (Texas)
Coggins, Paul Edward (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0010 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Durst, Philip (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0008
Farr, H. Bartow III (District of Columbia)
Ferleger, David (Pennsylvania)
ID-TX-0001-0003 | ID-TX-0001-0004 | ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0010 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-0015 | ID-TX-0001-0016 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Hamilton, Dona (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0003 | ID-TX-0001-0010
Hunter, Toni (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0009 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014
Joplin, J. Michael (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Klein, Joel I. (District of Columbia)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0012
Mattox, Jim (Texas)
Scherer, Nancy (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Shisk, Diane (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014
Smith, Paul M. (District of Columbia)
ID-TX-0001-0006 | ID-TX-0001-0007 | ID-TX-0001-0008 | ID-TX-0001-0010 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-0015 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Trease, Nancy A. (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0004 | ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Untereiner, Alan (District of Columbia)
ID-TX-0001-0011 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Bebee, Dayle (Texas)
Campbell, B. F. Jr (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0016
Corbett, Garth Anthony (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0010 | ID-TX-0001-0015 | ID-TX-0001-9000
Haw, Alexander M (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0012 | ID-TX-0001-0016
Raymond, Virginia Marie (Texas)
ID-TX-0001-0013 | ID-TX-0001-0014 | ID-TX-0001-9000

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