* These pages constitute a repository of recent historical information and no longer concern an active suit.

Timeline and Event Photos
Avert Rolland Tragedy - Fighting Against De-institutionalization  of the residents of the Seven Hills Pediatric Center
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Timeline of major events in the struggle of Seven Hills Pediatric Center residents to remain in their home

1998. — Rolland suit launched.
Attorneys supported by the Massachusetts Association of Retarded Citizens (ARC) and other organizations represent Loretta Rolland and six other named plaintiffs who reside in nursing homes in Massachusetts in suing the Commonwealth, claiming that their rights to live in the least restrictive possible environments under the Americans with Disabilities Act are being violated.

Feb. 2, 1999. — Court approves Rolland class without informing Groton families.
Federal District Court in Springfield, Mass. grants Rolland’s attorneys the right to represent all mentally retarded adults living in nursing homes in Massachusetts. No guardians of residents at Children’s Extended Care Center (CECC) in Groton learn of the suit and thus none are able to challenge Rolland’s attorneys’ right to represent them.

October 20, 1999. — Massachusetts settles Rolland suit.
The Commonwealth, under then Governor Paul Cellucci, settles the suit, committing to move large numbers of Rolland class members out of nursing homes. SHPC residents’ guardians remain uninformed of the Rolland suit.

Late April, 2008. — Groton families get first word of Rolland suit.
Massachusetts Department of Mental Retardation sends letter to guardians of residents of the former CECC, now Seven Hills Pediatric Center (SHPC), informing them for the first time of the existence of the Rolland suit, of their wards’ membership in the Rolland plaintiff class, and of the state’s intention to settle a disagreement with the plaintiffs via the Rolland V. Patrick settlement agreement. Under the settlemet agreement, the Commonwealth commits to moving 640 Rolland class members (out of an estimated 800, including approximately 50 at SHPC) into community placements over a four year period.

May 12, 2008. — Groton families submit opposition.
Attorney Stephen Sheehy submits arguments on behalf of 43 SHPC residents and their guardians to U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Kenneth Neiman opposing the Rolland V. Patrick settlement agreement and asking that their wards be removed from the Rolland plaintiff class due to their lack of common interest with the named plaintiffs and lack of previous notification and opportunity to object to being included.

May 22, 2008. — Judge tells families their rights are limited.
Judge Neiman holds Fairness Hearing in U.S. District Court, Springfield Mass., attended by many family members of SHPC residents. Judge Neiman shocks families by telling them that they lack the right to determine where their loved ones will reside and that their lack of notice regarding the Rolland suit is not a basis for removal from the class.

June 16, 2008. — Judge accepts settlement agreement despite Groton families’ objections.
Judge Neiman issues his Order and Decision accepting the settlement agreement between the Rolland plaintiffs and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over the objections of the SHPC residents’ guardians.

June 22, 2008. — Groton families sign petition expressing outrage.
SHPC residents’ guardians sign a petition expressing outrage at the Commonwealth’s actions and appealing to legislators and others to protect their loved ones.

July 15, 2008. — Groton families appeal to U.S. Circuit Court.
Attorney Stephen Sheehy files an appeal of Judge Neiman’s order and decision on the Rolland settlement agreement to the U.S. Appeals Court for the First Circuit on behalf of the 43 SHPC residents and their guardians.

July 28, 2008. — Groton family representatives meet with top state health officials, have pleas rejected.
Guardians of four SHPC residents meet with Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby and Assistant Secretary Jean McGuire at their offices in Boston. The guardians demand that their wards names be removed from the Rolland Community Placement List and are told that that cannot be done.

August 19, 2008. — Judge rejects request for removal from class.
Judge Neiman denies the 43 SHPC residents’ request to be removed from the Rolland plaintiff class.

October 8, 2008. — Web site launched.
Avert Rolland Tragedy web site advocating on behalf of SHPC residents opposed to involuntary membership in the Rolland plaintiff class, inclusion in the Rolland Community Placement list, and fighting to prevent involuntary movement out of their facility, is launched.

October 19, 2008. — Families hold public march in Groton.
More than fifty guardians and family members of SHPC assemble and march from the facility through Main Street in Groton calling for the state to protect the SHPC residents from harmful expulsion from their institution under the Rolland Suit. The event receives front page coverage in the Lowell Sun.


December 19, 2008. — Family representatives meet Children’s Hospital leaders.
SHPC guardians meet with administrators at Children’s Hospital, Boston who are familiar with SHPC from its previous management by Children’s to ask Children’s help in protecting the residents from aggressive actions under the Rolland Suit.

April 19, 2009. — Children’s Hospital sends letter of concern.
Children’s Hospital officials send letter to Rolland Court Monitor drawing attention to the medical needs of the SHPC residents and expressing concern that the Rolland suit is being carried out without adequate attention to the need to maintain a continuum of care options for those like the SHPC residents.

June 15, 2009. — Niki Tsongas visits SHPC.
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas visits SHPC and is joined by State Senators Michael Moore of Worcester and Susan Tucker of Andover and by State Representative Robert Hargraves of Groton. Tsongas expresses concern for SHPC residents. A front page story about the event appears in the Lowell Sun on June 16 and the Sun posts an on-line news video about it.

August 4, 2009. — Families protest at event by Governor.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick holds a Town Hall Tour open air forum in the park behind Groton’s public library. Family members of SHPC residents, some bringing residents in wheelchairs, come to ask the Governor why he has answered none of their letters and phone calls and to see whether he has any knowledge of the impact of his administration’s actions on their families. The Governor expresses concern and promises to visit SHPC, as recorded by the Lowell Sun in its article the next day, but ultimately fails to fulfill the promise.


August, 2009. — Tsongas and state reps urge Governor to visit facility.
Niki Tsongas and the state senators and representative who visited SHPC with her on June 15 send a letter to Governor Patrick urging him to visit SHPC.

Nov. 4, 2009. — Circuit Court hears case.
U.S. Appeals Court panel hears arguments from the Commonwealth, the Rolland plaintiff attorneys, and the SHPC appellants regarding the SHPC residents’ and guardians’ appeal of the Rolland settlement agreement. SHPC families are represented by Attorney Sheehy and attorneys from the law firm Goodwin Procter.

January 19, 2010. — Circuit Court issues decision.
The Appeals Court issues its decision, rejecting the SHPC residents’ request to vacate the settlement agreement, but calling on the Commonwealth to live up to its representations that it will protect the residents’ rights: “The Commonwealth has made many commitments to this court about ensuring the fairness of the placement process going forward, and we expect that they will abide by those commitments.”

April 6, 2010. — Tsongas and Mass. health officials visit facility.
Niki Tsongas visits SHPC for a second time, this time joining Drs. Bigby and McGuire from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services. In an exchange of views between SHPC guardians and Drs. Bigby and McGuire, the guardians express distrust of Massachusetts’ dealings with their loved ones and again request removal from the Rolland Community Placement List. Drs. Bigby and McGuire reiterate their stance that no names will be removed from the list except after final evaluation of their suitability for moves to community facilities.

February 21, 2011. — Web site re-activated.
Avert Rolland Tragedy web site is restored to operation following a break resulting from technical problems.

May 8, 2013. — Final court hearing.
Judge Neiman convenes the parties to review the case at the U.S. District Court, Springfield, MA. The Groton families are represented by Attorney Sheehy.

May 22, 2013. — Final memorandum and order.
Judge Neiman issues a final memorandum summarizing the history of the suit.

June 23, 2013. — SHPC Family Council discusses end of suit.
SHPC families meet at the facility in Groton to discuss the conclusion of the suit. They agree to establish a new website, SHPCFamilyCouncil.org, agree to a statement about the suit (see that website), and decide to save the Avert Rolland Tragedy web pages as a repository of the suit's history, to remain linked to the new site.

October 19, 2008. — Families hold public march in Groton.
August 4, 2009. — Families protest at event by Governor.
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© 2008-2013 Seven Hills Pediatric Center Family Council
* These pages constitute a repository of recent historical information and no longer concern an active suit.