770 F.Supp. 354 (W.D.Ky. 1991), Civ. A. C 82-0738, Doe v. Cowherd

Docket Nº:Civ. A. C 82-0738
Citation:770 F.Supp. 354
Party Name:Doe v. Cowherd
Case Date:July 01, 1991
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Western District of Kentucky

Page 354

770 F.Supp. 354 (W.D.Ky. 1991)

Samuel DOE, et al., Plaintiffs,


Harry J. COWHERD, M.D., Secretary, Cabinet for Human Resources, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. C 82-0738-L(A).

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, at Louisville.

July 1, 1991

Page 355

Kelly A. Miller, Glenna Jo Curry, Legal Aid Society, Inc., Louisville, Ky., for plaintiffs.

Robert L. Heleringer, Louisville, Ky., for amicus parties.

E.D. Klatte, Cabinet for Human Resources, Office of the Counsel, Frankfort, Ky., for defendant.


ALLEN, Senior District Judge.

This class action pursuant to the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C.§ 1983, challenging the procedures governing admissions and discharges at Kentucky's Mental Retardation Residential Treatment Centers [hereinafter "MRRTCs"] is submitted to the Court on plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and preliminary injunction. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will enter partial summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs and a preliminary injunction in accordance with that partial judgment.

Plaintiff Doe filed this action in 1982 alleging that the procedures by which he and others had been admitted and retained at Kentucky's MRRTCs were unconstitutional. In a memorandum opinion entered November 20, 1986, this Court held that mentally retarded adults are entitled to a "judicial hearing and determination of the propriety of the commitment," either prior to the involuntary commitment or as soon as practicable thereafter. Doe v. Austin,1 668 F.Supp. 597, 600 (W.D.Ky.1986), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 848 F.2d 1386 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 967, 109 S.Ct. 495, 102 L.Ed.2d 531 (1988).

We also held that contrary to the 1986 amendments to K.R.S. 202B, applications by parents or guardians for commitment of mentally retarded family members or wards are not voluntary commitments, id.; that the Equal Protection Clause requires a judicial hearing and determination prior to commitment, id. at 601; and that the Due Process Clause requires periodic review of any commitment decision. Id. We, therefore, enjoined the defendant Secretary from committing allegedly mentally retarded adults to any MRRTC without first providing a judicial hearing to determine whether such individuals should be committed. Id. at 602.

On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit agreed that commitments of mentally retarded adults on applications by parents or guardians are, in actuality, involuntary. Doe v. Austin, 848 F.2d 1386, 1392 (6th Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 967, 109 S.Ct. 495, 102 L.Ed.2d 531 (1988). The Court of Appeals also agreed that Kentucky's procedures did not conform with the requirements of due process. Id. at 1394. As explained by the Sixth Circuit, although due process does not require full-blown judicial hearings prior to involuntary commitments of mentally retarded adults, due process does require that "mentally retarded adults in Kentucky receive, at a minimum," the six procedural safeguards established in Vitek v. Jones, 445 U.S. 480, 494-95, 100 S.Ct. 1254, 1264-65, 63 L.Ed.2d 552 (1980). 2 Doe v. Austin, 848 F.2d at 1393-95.

Page 356

Finally, the Sixth Circuit held that because Kentucky provides judicial hearings for the admission of mentally ill adults to mental health facilities, equal protection requires that Kentucky also provide judicial hearings for the admission of mentally retarded adults to MRRTCs. Id. at 1394-95. Likewise, the Sixth Circuit held that as Kentucky provides periodic judicial review for committed mentally ill adults, equal protection requires that Kentucky also provide some form of periodic review for committed mentally retarded adults. Id. at 1394-96. As to the formulation of these review procedures, the Sixth Circuit remanded the matter on the grounds that such a task was best left to the district court as it would have the benefit of compliance plans submitted by the parties. Id. at 1396 n. 9.

Following the Supreme Court's denial of the Secretary's petition for a writ of certiorari, the parties began negotiating a compliance plan to implement the above-referenced holdings. In September 1989 they submitted a proposed Agreed Final Compliance Plan. This plan proposed procedures different from those enjoined and would have required Kentucky to give the same rights to mentally retarded adults with respect to involuntary commitments as is given to mentally ill adults.

However, in the meantime, the 1990 Kentucky General Assembly enacted House Bill 511 [hereinafter "HB 511"], an entirely new version of K.R.S. 202B for governing...

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