May 2, 1975
NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION FOR RETARDED CHILDREN, INC., BENEVOLENT SOCIETY FOR RETARDED CHILDREN, WILLOWBROOK CHAPTER, OF THE NEW YORK STATE ASSOCIATION FOR RETARDED CHILDREN; LARA R. SCHNEPS, by her father Murray B. Schneps; NINA GALIN, by her mother Diana Lane McCourt; ANTHONY RIOS, by his father Jesus Rios; DAVID AMOROSO, by his mother Rosalie Amoroso; ROSE EVELYN CRUZ, by her father Francisco M. Cruz; BARRY FRIEDMAN, by his father Melvin Friedman; LOWELL SCOTT ISAACS, by his father Jerome W. Isaacs; and ANTOINETTE MAGRI, by her mother Sandra Magri, and PATRICIA PARISI, by her mother Lena Steuernagel; ANSELMO CLARKE, by his mother Estella Clarke; NELSON AGOSTO, by his aunt and next friend Lucilia DeJesus; FRANCES BREEN, by her sister Mary Morganstern as committee of her person and property; JOHN DUFFY, by his next friend Robert L. Feldt, Esq.; EVELYN CRUZ, by her father Francisco Cruz; BONNIE ROSE, by her mother Anne Rose; MARIO NARVAEZ, by his mother Carmen Narvaez; JOHN DOE, by his mother Jane Doe; STEVEN ROSEPKA, by his father Ben Rosepka; individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
HUGH L. CAREY, individually and as Governor of the State of New York; THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HYGIENE; LAWRENCE C. KOLB, M.D., individually and as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene; ROBERT W. HAYES, individually and as Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Mental Retardation and Children's Services of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene; HAROLD C. PIEPENBRINK, individually and as Director of Willowbrook Developmental Center; STUART KEILL, M.D., individually and as Regional Director, New York City Regional Office of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene, ROBERT E. PATTON, individually and as Second Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene; RANGASAMY NATARAJAN, M.D., individually and as Deputy Director for Clinical Services for Willowbrook Developmental Center; DONALD E. FLEMING, individually and as Deputy Director for Institutional Administration for Willowbrook Developmental Center, Defendants, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Amicus Curiae
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JUDD
A hearing has been held on the parties' motion for approval of a consent judgment terminating this civil rights action concerning the care and treatment of mentally retarded children and adults residing at Willowbrook State Developmental Center (formerly the Willowbrook State School).
During the three-year course of this litigation, the fate of the mentally impaired members of our society has passed from an arcane concern to a major issue both of constitutional rights and social policy. The proposed consent judgment resolving this litigation is partly a fruit of that process.
As pointed out in this court's Memorandum of April 23, 1975, the proposed consent judgment was formulated after prolonged hearings before this court, and as the result of extensive negotiations between the parties. During these negotiations, private counsel for the plaintiffs were assisted by representatives of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, and the defendants were represented by the Attorney General of the State of New York, as well as by representatives of Governor Carey's office, the Budget Director, and the Department of Mental Hygiene.
This court's original determination that the action could be maintained as a class action (Memorandum and Order of July 28, 1972) included a finding that the plaintiffs would adequately represent all members of the class. The court's observations during this litigation have reinforced that view. Counsel for plaintiffs have demonstrated skill and a great capacity for work in assembling facts concerning each aspect of conditions at Willowbrook, evaluating the results of this court's preliminary injunction of April 10, 1973, and providing expert testimony as to the needs of Willowbrook residents and the methods and programs employed in institutions elsewhere in the United States.
The proposed consent judgment includes an Appendix of "Steps, Standards and Procedures" covering 29 single-spaced pages, and dealing with 23 areas, all designed to secure the constitutional rights of Willowbrook residents to protection from harm. The proposed judgment recites that these
are not optimal or ideal standards, nor are they just custodial standards. They are based on the recognition that retarded persons, regardless of the degree of handicapping conditions, are capable of physical, intellectual, emotional and social growth, and . . . that a certain level of affirmative intervention and programming is necessary if that capacity for growth is to be preserved, and regression prevented.
The defendants agree that "within their lawful authority," and "subject to any legislative approval that may be required," they shall "take all actions necessary to secure implementation of the steps, standards and procedures," as well as "all steps necessary to ensure the full and timely financing of this judgment." The proposed judgment is agreed to apply to "all residents of Willowbrook and, unless inappropriate, to all other members of the class."
Many of the Steps, Standards and Procedures are to be achieved within thirteen months after the signing of the judgment, although different times are specified for some provisions.
The proposed judgment further provides for the appointment of a Review Panel to monitor implementation of the judgment and to perform other functions, as well as a Professional Advisory Board and a Consumer Advisory Board for Willowbrook. The court reserves jurisdiction for any further action that may be necessary after the entry of the final judgment and the commencement of its implementation.
The proposed judgment details reforms with regard to physical environment, staffing, programs, and therapy of various kinds. It sets a goal of developing community facilities and sharply reducing the population of Willowbrook. Specifically, Part V of the Steps, Standards and Procedures states:
Defendants shall take all steps necessary to develop and operate a broad range of non-institutional community facilities and programs to meet the needs of Willowbrook's residents and of the class. Within six years from the date of this judgment Willowbrook shall be reduced to an institution of 250 or fewer beds to serve the needs of residents who require institutional care and who come from the ...
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