Attorney General Janet T. Mills Announces End to Pineland Court Case

March 19, 2010

Attorney General Janet T. Mills Announces End to Pineland Court Case

Contact: Kate Simmons (207) 626-8577

Federal District Court Judge George Singal today terminated the Pineland Consent Decree. The Court granted Attorney General Janet Mills? ?Motion for Relief from Judgment,? filed last October and argued by Attorney General Mills on February 26, 2010. The Court found that the State of Maine was in substantial compliance with the 1994 Decree, that there were mechanisms in place to assure future compliance and that the State had exhibited a ?demonstrable commitment to achieving compliance.?

The Consent Decree stemmed from a 1975 lawsuit filed on behalf of people with cognitive disabilities who were involuntarily confined at Pineland Center, a state-run institution. The Plaintiffs challenged the conditions of the center and the quality of care. Pineland Center was closed in 1996.

In the thirty-five years since the lawsuit was filed, the state has developed community-based services for class members all across the state. The class currently includes 738 individuals.

?The State of Maine is committed to providing class members services in their communities,? stated Attorney General Mills. ?People have a right to live, work, play and worship in their communities rather than in institutions. Maine is one of only ten states that do not institutionalize people with cognitive disabilities. We can be justifiably proud of the work our state has done. Never again will this state shelter away individuals with disabilities, hide them behind closed doors, or deprive them of supports and socialization.?

The Attorney General thanked especially Commissioner Brenda Harvey and Jane Gallivan, Director of the Office of Adults with Cognitive and Physical Disabilities, and Court Master Clarence Sundram for their tireless work in ensuring compliance with the decree and in protecting the rights of Maine?s most vulnerable citizens.