We're pleased to announce a settlement in the case Demby et al v. Department of Health & Mental Hygiene et al., No. 1:06-cv-01816-CCB (D. MD) for $425,000 plus extensive programmatic relief in our case against the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, the Mental Hygiene Administration, and the Eastern Shore Hospital Center. Our two female clients -- one developmentally disabled and the other with a traumatic brain injury -- were sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by staff and co-workers at a sheltered workshop in Cambridge, MD.

Importantly, in addition to monetary relief, the settlement agreement binds the state to undertake and enact annual training of all patients, clients, and staff of every state mental health and developmental disabilities facility, as well as all facilities licensed by the Mental Hygiene Administration and Developmental Disabilities Administration throughout the state of Maryland (not just this single sheltered workshop). Where necessary the state will undertake new rule-making and regulations. Specifically, the state must develop with advocates for the mentally and intellectually disabled effective curricula for that population to understand, resist, and report instances of abuse, sexual abuse, and sexual contact. Employees of state and licensed facilities are also required to undertake specific annual training in that area. As well, under the terms of the settlement every reported instance of sexual or exploitive acts must be reported within one day to the Maryland Disability Law Center. The nonmonetary relief was a critical goal of our clients.

The case was filed originally by Mike Tarone, who co-counseled the case with me and my associate Jeremy Monteiro. Judge Catherine Blake presided over the case and will continue to for another couple of years while the non-monetary relief is implemented.

– submitted Jonathan C. Puth

Newsletter Volume: 
Newsletter - March/April 2012