University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Davis v. Buckley ID-VA-0001
Docket / Court 80-0569 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Intellectual Disability (Facility)
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
In 1980, a intellectually disabled resident of the Southside Virginia Training Center ("Southside") filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of himself and 98 other Southside residents with intellectual disabilities who desired ... read more >
In 1980, a intellectually disabled resident of the Southside Virginia Training Center ("Southside") filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on behalf of himself and 98 other Southside residents with intellectual disabilities who desired community placement. Plaintiffs, represented by the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society and the Peninsula Legal Aid Center, sought declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the defendants, who included Southside employees, officials with the City of Richmond, state mental health and public welfare agencies, and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, to provide them with community residential placements and social, educational and rehabilitative programs.

The plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on August 17, 1981, asserting claims under Title XIX of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq.; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, § 504, as amended, 29 U.S.C.§ 794; 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for due process, equal protection, and cruel and unusual punishment clause violations; and Virginia state law. The Plaintiff claimed that Southside did not adequately prepare its residents with the necessary social and life skills for them to transition into the community and that defendants failed to provide appropriate residential placement programs for them.

On July 24, 1980, the plaintiff filed a motion for class certification; at this early stage in the litigation, plaintiff was seeking to certify a class of all mentally disabled persons in "The catchment area of Southside Virginia Training Center, including those held at Southside Virginia Training Center." This claimed class consisted of over 5,000 mentally disabled Virginians. The plaintiffs also tried to establish a defendant class: "all communities and their officials who charged with any duties and obligations with respect to mentally [disabled] persons in the defendant communities served by Southside." In September of 1980, Defendants all moved to dismiss the plaintiff's amended complaint, and the case continued to proceed through discovery.

On August 12, 1981, plaintiff and the federal Department of Health and Human Services filed a consent decree, which stipulated the conditions for the dismissal of the department from the case. In the decree, the Department agreed to investigate Southside and issue a Findings Letter to the plaintiffs within six months of the order.

Litigation with the state defendants continued. On August 17, 1981, the plaintiff filed a second amended complaint. Though the Clearinghouse does not have a copy of this complaint, later opinions indicate that this complaint lessened the class from all mentally disabled persons in the catchment of Southside to only those residing within Southside

On November 17, 1981, the court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. In their motions to dismiss, defendants asserted that plaintiffs must bring their claims through a petition of habeas corpus, and must therefore have exhausted state remedies before a suit could be brought. The court asserted that this was a mischaracterization of the plaintiffs' claims; the plaintiffs were seeking treatment, habilitation, and an opportunity to be in the community, not simply release.

The court also interpreted Virginia state law as requiring placement in the least restrictive environment possible, as well as requiring social and residential services that were not offered to the residents of Southside. The court also sided with the plaintiffs in their assertion that Southside was discriminating against them in violation of the Rehabilitation Act. Although the court was less convinced that a due process right to treatment existed for the plaintiffs, it noted that the dismissal of the claim would be "improper." 526 F. Supp 985 (1981).

On February 25, 1982, class certification for both the plaintiff and defendant class was denied. On August 25, 1982 the defendants moved for summary judgment, and on September 17, 1982, the plaintiff amended his complaint, adding one more private party and removing the request for class certification.

On April 25, 1983, the parties filed a stipulation and order of dismissal. The content of the stipulation is unknown, but the court dismissed the case on the same day, April 25, 1983.

Dan Dalton - 03/16/2007
Megan Brown - 06/12/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Hospital/Health Department
Integrated setting
Least restrictive environment
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Habilitation (training/treatment)
Reassessment and care planning
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Medicaid, 42 U.S.C §1396 (Title XIX of the Social Security Act)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Richmond
Southside Virginia Training Center ("Southside")
Plaintiff Description All intellectually disabled residents of Southside Virginia Training Center ("Southside") who desired community placement
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se 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
Conditional Dismissal
Order Duration 1981 - 1981
Filed 07/22/1980
Case Closing Year 1983
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities
U.S. Department of Justice
Date: 9/13/2021
By: Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Va.
ID-VA-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
General Documents
E.D. Va.
Complaint [ECF# 4]
ID-VA-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
E.D. Va.
Amended Complaint [ECF# 5]
ID-VA-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
E.D. Va.
Consent Decree
ID-VA-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
E.D. Va.
Memorandum [ECF# 115] (526 F.Supp. 985)
ID-VA-0001-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
E.D. Va.
Order [Denying Class Certification]
ID-VA-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: Nat'l Archives (NARA)-details in other
show all people docs
Judges Merhige, Robert Reynold Jr. (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0001 | ID-VA-0001-0003 | ID-VA-0001-0004 | ID-VA-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hanagan, James (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0001 | ID-VA-0001-0002 | ID-VA-0001-0004 | ID-VA-0001-0006 | ID-VA-0001-9000
Murphy, Eugene (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0001 | ID-VA-0001-0004 | ID-VA-0001-0006 | ID-VA-0001-9000
Rosenberg, Joshua D. (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0002 | ID-VA-0001-0006
Stone, Donald H. (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0001 | ID-VA-0001-0002 | ID-VA-0001-0006 | ID-VA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Apodaca, Virginia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Grant, G. Wingate (Virginia) show/hide docs
Haymes, John R. Jr. (Virginia) show/hide docs
ID-VA-0001-0001 | ID-VA-0001-9000
Merrill, Dennis G. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Ryan, James E. Jr. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Spencer, Mary Yancey (Virginia) show/hide docs
Other Lawyers Hefty, William H. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Klein, Joel I. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Powell, Beverly C. (Virginia) show/hide docs
Powell, Lewis Franklin III (Virginia) show/hide docs

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