NAACP v. Wilmington Medical Ctr., Inc., Civ. A. No. 76-298.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
Writing for the CourtLATCHUM
Citation530 F. Supp. 1018
PartiesNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR the ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The WILMINGTON MEDICAL CENTER, INC., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 76-298.
Decision Date21 December 1981

530 F. Supp. 1018

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR the ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
The WILMINGTON MEDICAL CENTER, INC., et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 76-298.

United States District Court, D. Delaware.

December 21, 1981.


530 F. Supp. 1019

Marilyn G. Rose and Sanford A. Newman of the Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, D. C., Douglas Shachtman, Wilmington, Del., and Jeffrey S. Goddess, City Sol. of the City of Wilmington, Wilmington, Del., for plaintiffs.

Rodney M. Layton and William J. Wade of Richards, Layton & Finger, Wilmington, Del., for defendant Wilmington Medical Center, Inc.

OPINION

LATCHUM, Chief Judge.

Two matters are presently before the Court in this protracted litigation:1 (1)

530 F. Supp. 1020
plaintiffs' petition for an award of attorneys' fees and incidental legal expenses pursuant to the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1988 and 29 U.S.C. § 794a(a)(2)(b),2 and (2) the motion of the defendant Wilmington Medical Center, Inc. ("WMC") for review of the taxation of costs.3

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

In order to understand fully the attorney fee issue now before the Court and to highlight the claims asserted, the relief sought, and the ultimate disposition of those claims on the merits, it is necessary to recite in some detail the procedural history of this intricate litigation.

This litigation grew out of "Plan Omega," the proposal of the WMC to relocate a major portion of its urban hospital facilities and services to a suburban location. Certain black, Puerto Rican and handicapped individuals and groups representing similar persons ("the plaintiffs") commenced this action on September 10, 1976, naming as defendants WMC, the Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare ("HEW"), the Director of the Delaware Bureau of Comprehensive Health Planning ("BCHP"), and the Chairman of the Health Planning Council, Inc. ("HPC").

The original complaint alleged that WMC, as a recipient of federal funds under the medicare and medicaid programs, had violated its obligations to the plaintiffs, beneficiaries of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, by commencing to implement Plan Omega.4 Plaintiffs also alleged that HEW had violated its duty to enforce Title VI and Section 504: (1) by approving Plan Omega under Section 1122 of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-1 ("Section 1122"); (2) by approving regulations under the Social Security Act which failed to require that a proposal under Section 1122 comply with Title VI and Section 504; (3) by entering into an agreement with BCHP which failed to ensure that proposals under Section 1122 comply with Title VI and Section 504; (4) by adopting a procedure which prohibited HEW review of Section 1122 proposals for substantive compliance with Title VI and Section 504; (5) by following such an improper procedure in approving Plan Omega; and (6) by failing to file an environmental impact statement concerning Plan Omega under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq. (the "NEPA claim").5 Finally, the complaint charged that BCHP and HPC had violated Title VI and Section 504 by not adopting procedures to ensure that proposals under Section 1122 comply with Title VI and Section 504 and by making findings and recommending approval of Plan Omega.6

The relief sought by the complaint was a judgment: (1) that declares the defendants had violated the above statutes and failed to perform their statutory duties as alleged in various claims outlined above; and (2) that enjoins the implementation of Plan Omega and the relocation of a portion of WMC's facilities.

Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint which clarified the claims against HEW on December 12, 1976.7 The first substantive motions which the Court was required to decide were: (a) HEW's motion to dismiss or, alternatively, for summary judgment;8 (b) BCHP's motion to dismiss9 on the grounds that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies; and

530 F. Supp. 1021
(c) plaintiffs' cross motion for partial summary judgment against HEW.10 WMC took no part in briefing these motions to dismiss and/or summary judgment. NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 426 F.Supp. 919, 923 (D.Del.1977). Indeed, WMC's counsel had from the beginning of the litigation sought to have the discrimination claims against WMC determined by this Court at the earliest possible time and to this end on November 3, 1976, had moved the Court for a separate trial of the discrimination claims asserted against WMC.11 At the argument of the cross motions of HEW and plaintiffs on January 6, 1977, WMC's counsel did not support HEW's motion to have the action dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.12

Over the strenuous objections of the plaintiffs,13 the Court, sua sponte, on January 19, 1977 stayed its actions temporarily on the amended complaint and ordered HEW to conduct a civil rights investigation of plaintiffs' discrimination allegations and to reconsider its position regarding a NEPA report. 426 F.Supp. 919 (D.Del.1977). That investigation led to a finding by HEW's Office of Civil Rights in July, 1977 that the implementation of Plan Omega, as presently conceived, would constitute a prima facie violation of Title VI and Section 504.14 HEW also found that, by giving specific assurances in certain areas, WMC could bring Plan Omega into compliance with both statutes.15 HEW further concluded a NEPA report was unnecessary in Section 1122 review.16 After several weeks of negotiations between HEW and WMC, as provided in 42 U.S.C. § 2000d-1, WMC on November 1, 1977 voluntarily entered into a Contract of Assurances ("Supplemental Agreement") with HEW in which WMC undertook specifically, inter alia: (1) to provide a transportation system for patients, visitors and employees between the Delaware Division and the Southwest Division; (2) to institute a patient allocation system as to services available at both locations to preclude the development of racially differentiated utilization patterns; and (3) to alter construction plans for both facilities to comply with Section 504 requirements.17

On August 16, 1977 the Court ruled against the plaintiffs and determined that HEW was not required to prepare a NEPA report with respect to HEW's Section 1122 review of Plan Omega. NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 436 F.Supp. 1194 (D.Del.1977) and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed that decision in 584 F.2d 619 (C.A.3, 1978).

After WMC and HEW entered into the Supplemental Agreement, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint which added claims against HEW, challenging the legality of the Supplemental Agreement, and claimed that WMC violated Title VI and Section 504 by voluntarily entering into the Supplemental Agreement.18 In an opinion filed on April 7, 1978, this Court reviewed HEW's findings and held: (1) that HEW's conclusions, that Plan Omega as modified by the Supplemental Agreement would not violate Title VI or Section 504, were not arbitrary or capricious; (2) that the plaintiffs had no right to bring a private action under those statutes; and (3) summary judgment would be entered in favor of HEW and WMC. NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 453 F.Supp. 280 (D.Del.1978). On appeal, the Third Circuit on June 4, 1979 reversed in part, holding that the plaintiffs did have a private right to a trial de novo in this Court on their Title VI and Section 504

530 F. Supp. 1022
claims, and remanded the case to this Court for a trial on the merits. NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 599 F.2d 1247 (C.A.3, 1979)

On June 21, 1978, this Court handed down another opinion, NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 453 F.Supp. 330 (D.Del.1978), which rejected the plaintiffs' claims that HEW's failure to provide the plaintiffs a hearing during its administrative investigation of possible Title VI and Section 504 violations contravened the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. These due process claims were first raised by the plaintiffs in their second amended complaint filed November 22, 1977.19 Although both the June 21 and April 7 district court opinions were appealed to the Third Circuit together, the Court of Appeals, because of its finding that the plaintiffs had a right to a trial de novo under Title VI and Section 504, found it unnecessary to decide the due process issue.

In a later opinion released on September 22, 1978 in two different but intimately related cases litigated by the same attorneys, this Court also rejected on the merits plaintiffs' various challenges to HEW's approval of Plan Omega under Section 1122. Wilmington United Neighborhoods v. HEW etc., 458 F.Supp. 628 (D.Del.1978). Again this opinion was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 615 F.2d 112 (C.A.3, 1980).

Following the remand of this case by the Third Circuit for a trial de novo, HEW was dismissed from the action on July 16, 1979 in accordance with the mandate of the Court of Appeals20 and BCHP and HPC and their respective officers were dismissed from this action by agreement of the parties on July 17, 1979.21

Then on September 4, 1979, this Court granted plaintiffs leave to file a third amended complaint.22 This amendment added the City of Wilmington as a party plaintiff and struck those paragraphs relating to HEW in the complaint. Also added were allegations of violations of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, 42 U.S.C. § 6102 ("Section 6102 claims") and an allegation charging WMC with "intending" the discriminatory consequences alleged under Title VI, Section 504 and Section 6102. After a bench trial lasting more than a month, this Court filed a comprehensive and detailed opinion, concluding that the plaintiffs had failed to prove discrimination under any of the three statutes on any of the claims asserted in the third amended complaint. NAACP v. WMC, Inc., 491 F.Supp. 290 (D.Del.1980). Consequently, final judgment was entered on May 13, 1980 in...

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3 practice notes
  • Mares v. Credit Bureau of Raton, No. 84-1814
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 8, 1986
    ...Co., 684 F.2d 1226 (7th Cir.1982), aff'd, 465 U.S. 752, 104 S.Ct. 1464, 79 L.Ed.2d 775 (1984); NAACP v. Wilmington Medical Center, 530 F.Supp. 1018 (D.Del.1981), rev'd on other grounds, 689 F.2d 1161 (3d Cir.1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1052, 103 S.Ct. 1499, 75 L.Ed.2d 930 (1983). Prevaili......
  • Colpo v. GENERAL TEAM. LOCAL UNION 326, ETC., Civ. A. No. 79-514
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • February 1, 1982
    ...rather than copies of all of the contracts, Colpo and the Secretary prevailed on this matter, see NAACP v. Wilmington Medical Center, 530 F.Supp. 1018 (D.Del.1981); Sullivan v. Commonwealth, 663 F.2d 443 (3d Cir. 1981); Maher v. Gagne, 448 U.S. 122, 100 S.Ct. 2570, 65 L.Ed.2d 653 (1980) (fe......
  • N.A.A.C.P. v. Wilmington Medical Center, Inc., No. 82-1072
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 8, 1982
    ...Medical Center had discriminated against minorities and aged persons in its proposal to modernize its facilities. The district court, 530 F.Supp. 1018, sitting without a jury, held that there was no proof of discrimination and found for the defendants. This Court affirmed in an in banc deci......
3 cases
  • Mares v. Credit Bureau of Raton, No. 84-1814
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • September 8, 1986
    ...Co., 684 F.2d 1226 (7th Cir.1982), aff'd, 465 U.S. 752, 104 S.Ct. 1464, 79 L.Ed.2d 775 (1984); NAACP v. Wilmington Medical Center, 530 F.Supp. 1018 (D.Del.1981), rev'd on other grounds, 689 F.2d 1161 (3d Cir.1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1052, 103 S.Ct. 1499, 75 L.Ed.2d 930 (1983). Prevaili......
  • Colpo v. GENERAL TEAM. LOCAL UNION 326, ETC., Civ. A. No. 79-514
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Delaware)
    • February 1, 1982
    ...rather than copies of all of the contracts, Colpo and the Secretary prevailed on this matter, see NAACP v. Wilmington Medical Center, 530 F.Supp. 1018 (D.Del.1981); Sullivan v. Commonwealth, 663 F.2d 443 (3d Cir. 1981); Maher v. Gagne, 448 U.S. 122, 100 S.Ct. 2570, 65 L.Ed.2d 653 (1980) (fe......
  • N.A.A.C.P. v. Wilmington Medical Center, Inc., No. 82-1072
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • November 8, 1982
    ...Medical Center had discriminated against minorities and aged persons in its proposal to modernize its facilities. The district court, 530 F.Supp. 1018, sitting without a jury, held that there was no proof of discrimination and found for the defendants. This Court affirmed in an in banc deci......

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