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YOUNGBERG V. ROMEO, 457 U. S. 307 (1982)

U.S. Supreme Court

Youngberg v. Romeo, 457 U.S. 307 (1982)

Youngberg v. Romeo

No. 80-1429

Argued January 11, 1982

Decided June 18, 1982

457 U.S. 307


Respondent, who is mentally retarded, was involuntarily committed to a Pennsylvania state institution. Subsequently, after becoming concerned about injuries which respondent had suffered at the institution, his mother filed an action as his next friend in Federal District Court for damages under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against petitioner institution officials. She claimed that respondent had constitutional rights to safe conditions of confinement, freedom from bodily restraint, and training or "habilitation" and that petitioners knew, or should have known, about his injuries, but failed to take appropriate preventive procedures, thus violating his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In the ensuing jury trial, the District Court instructed the jury on the assumption that the Eighth Amendment was the proper standard of liability, and a verdict was returned for petitioners, on which judgment was entered. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial, holding that the Fourteenth, rather than the Eighth, Amendment provided the proper constitutional basis for the asserted rights.

Held: Respondent has constitutionally protected liberty interests under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to reasonably safe conditions of confinement, freedom from unreasonable bodily restraints, and such minimally adequate training as reasonably may be required by these interests. Whether respondent's constitutional rights have been violated must be determined by balancing these liberty interests against the relevant state interests. The proper standard for determining whether the State has adequately protected such rights is whether professional judgment, in fact, was exercised. And in determining what is "reasonable," courts must show deference to the judgment exercised by a qualified professional, whose decision is presumptively valid. Pp. 457 U. S. 314-325.

644 F.2d 147, vacated and remanded.

Page 457 U. S. 308

POWELL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, REHNQUIST, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which BRENNAN and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined, post, p. 457 U. S. 325. BURGER, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 457 U. S. 329.

Page 457 U. S. 309

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