Behavior Research Institute v. Office for Children; Judge Rotenberg Center v. Department of Disability Services

CPR has a long history of challenging the use of physical aversives to modify behavior of severely disabled children and adults.  CPR has represented individuals in substituted judgment cases opposing aversives, as well as a several guardians and attorneys in the class action case concerning the Commonwealth’s efforts to regulate or prohibit electric shock devices. We have also appeared as counsel for amici in ongoing Probate Court litigation involving the use of aversives in Massachusetts. 

  • Judge Rotenberg Center v. Department of Disability Services, 492 Mass. 772 (2023) – Appeared on behalf of amici in supreme Judicial Court case affirming trial court’s denial of a motion to terminate the longstanding Consent Decree, and holding that DDS acted in bad faith in enacting regulations that would preclude the use of electro-shock on JRC clients. 
  • In re the Guardianship of SB (Bristol Co. Probate Court 2016)– Successfully defended a Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) resident who sought alternative non-aversive treatment. The probate court judge rejected a treatment plan proposed by JRC and the client’s guardian to subject her to electric shock and other restraints. This was the first time that JRC failed to obtain court approval of contingent shock treatment in the Bristol County Probate Court – the court that issued the 1987 consent decree. The pleadings and exhibits are impounded and not available to the public. 
  • Judge Rotenberg Educational Center (formerly Behavior Research Institute) v. Commissioner of Dept. of Mental Retardation, 424 Mass.430, 677 N.E.2d 127 (1997)– Department of Mental Retardation held in contempt of earlier settlement agreement which allows private provider that employs painful aversive punishment techniques to continue to operate. 
  • In Matter of Sturtz, 410 Mass. 58 (Supreme Judicial Court 1991)– Filed an amicus brief in case challenging decision to manacle disabled student at the Behavior Research Institute, without resort to civil commitment procedures. 
  • Deniz v. Behavior Research Institute (Bristol Co. Probate Court 1987)– Suit to secure the release of severely handicapped young man from the Behavior Research Institute and his placement in a less restrictive and non-aversive community program in Vermont. Transfer approved by court.