446 F.Supp. 1295 (E.D.Pa. 1977), Civ. A. 74-1345, Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 74-1345
Citation:446 F.Supp. 1295
Party Name:Halderman v. Pennhurst State School and Hospital
Case Date:December 23, 1977
Court:United States District Courts, 3th Circuit, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Page 1295

446 F.Supp. 1295 (E.D.Pa. 1977)

Terri Lee HALDERMAN, a retarded citizen, by her mother and guardian, Winifred

Halderman, et al., Plaintiffs, Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Citizens et al., on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Intervenors,

United States of America, Plaintiff-Intervenor,



Civ. A. No. 74-1345.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

Dec. 23, 1977

On Injunctive Relief March 17, 1978.

Page 1296

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1297

David Ferleger, Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiffs.

The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, by Thomas K. Gilhool, Chief Counsel, Frank J. Laski and Edward A. Stutman, Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiff-intervenors, Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Citizens (Moskowitz, Hight, Preusch, and DiNolfi).

Peter A. Glascott, James M. McNamara, Asst. City Sol., Doylestown, Pa., for County of Bucks, George Metzer, Roger Bowers, Joseph Catania and Peter Bodenheimer.

David W. Marston, U. S. Atty., Washington, D. C., J. Stanley Pottinger, Asst. Atty. Gen., Civ. Rights Div., U. S. Dept. of Justice, Arthur E. Peabody, Jr., Washington, D. C., for U. S.

Frank, Margolis, Edelstein & Scherlis, Joseph Goldberg, Philadelphia, Pa., for Margaret Green, Betty Uphold, Alice Barton, P. E. Klick, Dr. Parocca and Helen Francis.

Thomas M. Kittredge, Philadelphia, Pa., Patricia H. Jenkins, Media, Pa., for Faith Whittlesey, Char. Keeler, Wm. Spingle, Comm. of Delaware County, P. P. Burrichter-Delaware County.

Thomas F. Schilpp, Luchsinger, Schilpp, Murphy & Noel, Media, Pa., for Commissioners of County of Delaware and Paul Burrichter, Administrator.

Thomas M. Kittredge, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, Pa., for Robert Strebl, Earl Baker, Leo McDermott and William McKendry.

Paul Sacks, Asst. City Sol., Philadelphia, Pa., for Mayor Frank L. Rizzo, City Counsel of Philadelphia, and Leon Soffer.

Roger B. Reynolds, Montgomery County Sol., Ward A. Cotton, Sol., Montgomery, Joseph A. Smyth, Asst. Montgomery County Sol., Norristown, Pa., for A. Russell Parkhouse, Frank W. Jenkins, Lawrence H. Curry, Montgomery County Comm., and Hermann A. Roether.

Page 1298

Norman Watkins, Jeffrey Cooper, Deputy Attys. Gen., Dept. of Justice, Harrisburg, Pa., for Pennhurst State School & Hospital, Dept. of Public Welfare, Frank S. Beal, Stanley Meyers, Aldo Colautti, Wilbur Hobbs, Russell Rice, Jr., and C. Duane Youngberg.

I. Procedural History ...................... 1300
II. Parties ................................. 1300
III. Education, Training and Care Habilitation Afforded the Retarded at Pennhurst .......................... 1302
A. Staffing ........................... 1303
B. Habilitation at Pennhurst .......... 1304
C. Restraints at Pennhurst ............ 1306
D. Deterioration and Abuse of the Residents at Pennhurst ............. 1308
E. Voluntariness ...................... 1310
F. Community Services in the Five County Area ........................ 1311
G. County Participation ............... 1312
IV. The Merits .............................. 1313
A. Constitutional Right to Minimally Adequate Habilitation .............. 1314
B. Constitutional Right to be Free from Harm .......................... 1320
C. Constitutional Right to Non-Discriminatory Habilitation .... 1321
D. Pennsylvania Statutory Right to Minimally Adequate Habilitation .... 1322
E. Federal Statutory Right to Non-Discriminatory Habilitation .... 1323
V. Liability of the Individual Defendants ......................... 1324
VI. Conclusion .............................. 1325

OPINION RAYMOND J. BRODERICK, District Judge. This is a class action in which the named plaintiffs are either residents or former residents of Pennhurst State School and Hospital, now known as Pennhurst Center ("Pennhurst"), an institution owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, located in Spring City, Pennsylvania. These plaintiffs are all retarded persons, or their representatives, who claim injury based on violations of certain state 1 and federal 2 statutes as well as violations of certain constitutional rights 3 in connection with their institutionalization at Pennhurst. The plaintiffs seek both damages and broad equitable relief including the closing of Pennhurst, and mandating that the defendants provide them with education, training and care in their respective communities. "Habilitation" is the term of art used to refer to that education, training and care required by retarded individuals to reach their maximum development. This matter was tried before the Court, sitting without a jury, over a period of thirty-two days, testimony being limited solely to the issue of liability. In connection therewith, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law: Mental retardation, by definition, is an impairment in learning capacity and adaptive behavior. 4 (Roos, N.T. 1-86). Retardation is wholly distinct from mental illness. Retarded individuals, just as other members of society, may suffer from mental illness. Mental retardation is primarily an educational problem and not a disease which can be cured through drugs or treatment. However, with proper habilitation, the level of functioning of every retarded person may be improved. (Glenn, N.T. 5-186). 5 The incidence of mental retardation is about 3% In the general population. There are four basic levels of mental retardation: (1) mild (I.Q. 52-69) which comprises 89% Of the mentally retarded population; (2) moderate (I.Q. 36-51) which comprises 6% Of the Page 1299 mentally retarded population; (3) severe (I.Q. 20-35) which in conjunction with (4) profound (I.Q. less than 20) comprises 5% Of the mentally retarded population. (Roos, N.T. 1-89, 1-90). Pennhurst, as an institution for the retarded, was on trial. Recent years have witnessed an assault upon such institutions. 6 At issue is whether the residents at Pennhurst have been the victims of violations of their statutory or constitutional rights; specifically whether Pennhurst as an institution has been violating the statutory or constitutional rights of its retarded residents in failing to provide them with minimally adequate education, training and care. History is replete with misunderstanding and mistreatment of the retarded. As Wolf Wolfensberger points out in The Origin and Nature of Our Institutional Models 3 (1975):

It is chastening to recall that the retarded in American history were long grouped with other types of deviant groups. In early America, the Puritans looked with suspicion on any deviation from behavioral norms, and irregular conduct was often explained in terms of the supernatural, such as witchcraft. There is reason to believe that retarded individuals were hanged and burned on this suspicion. Later in New England, records show that lunatics, "distracted" persons, people who were non compos mentis, and those who had "fits" were all classed together, perhaps with vagabonds and paupers thrown in . . .. Connecticut's first house of correction in 1722 was for rogues, vagabonds, the idle, beggars, fortune tellers, diviners, musicians, runaways, drunkards, prostitutes, pilferers, brawlers and the mentally afflicted . . .. As late as about 1820, the retarded, together with other dependent deviant groups such as aged paupers, the sick poor, or the mentally distracted were publicly "sold" ("bid off") to the lowest bidder, i. e., bound over to the person who offered to take responsibility for them for the lowest amount of public support . . ..

The 10th (1880) U.S. census first combined "defectives," "dependents," and "delinquents" for reporting purposes. The Public Health Service combined "criminals, defectives, and delinquents" as late as the 1920's.

The National Conference on Charities and Correction, between about 1875 and 1920, often grouped the idiotic, imbecilic and feeble-minded with the deaf, dumb, blind, epileptic, insane, delinquent and offenders into one general class of "defectives." Few of us today are aware of the fact that the more contemporary term "mental defective" was coined to distinguish the retarded from these other "defectives," and it is no coincidence that many state institutions were for both the retarded and the epileptic. During the "indictment period," discussed later, an incredible range of deviances were associated with retardation; indeed, they were seen to be caused by it: illness, physical impediments; poverty; vagrancy; unemployment; alcoholism; sex offenses of various types, including prostitution and illegitimacy; crime; mental illness; and epilepsy. All these were called the "degeneracies."

Institutions for a number of "deviant" groups were founded in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century for the purpose of making the deviant less deviant. They were originally relatively small centers, often located within the community, in which intensive training could be concentrated on the deviants. Their emphasis was on education; they were viewed as temporary boarding schools, geared toward returning the individuals to their family or living group once appropriate skills were learned. By the late nineteenth century, however, these schools were replaced by asylums isolated from the community, where instead of providing the individual Page 1300 with the education and training necessary to return to the community, they provided the protection and care it was thought that these individuals required. The asylum grew to be viewed as a permanent residential facility for the deviant. In the more progressive states, the retarded received their own facilities separated from other "deviant" groups. With this concept came increased isolation and increased size permitting little time for habilitation. See generally, W....

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