On October 26, 2006, Plaintiff, a disabled former prisoner in the Washington State Department of Corrections, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington under the Americans With Disabilities Act , the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ...
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On October 26, 2006, Plaintiff, a disabled former prisoner in the Washington State Department of Corrections, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington under the Americans With Disabilities Act , the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC). The Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the Court for damages and for class certification for all similarly situated disabled prisoners, alleging that the DOC discriminates against prisoners with disabilities. Specifically, the Plaintiff claimed that a scoring system that the DOC used to determine whether a prisoner qualified for work release discriminated against prisoners with physical and mental disabilities by barring them from participating in the program because of their disability.
On August 10, 2007, the court approved certification of the class. The class included all disabled prisoners or former prisoners of the DOC who, since October 30, 2003, have been partially or wholly denied participation in the work release program because of a disability, and whose claim is limited to no more than 180 days of lost wages from the alleged discrimination. The plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment stating that the DOC's systems of scoring inmates for work release based on disabilities violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
On January 8, 2008, the court granted plaintiff's motion for summary judgment stating that to the extent that the DOC utilizes a practice of scoring prisoners according to a numerical profiling system based on physical abilities and uses that score as a motivating factor to exclude otherwise eligible disabled prisoners from the work release program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The court also amended the class to limit class members to disabled prisoners of the DOC who have been wholly or partially denied participation in the DOC work release program, provided a specific score was a motivating factor in determining the work release denial.
A settlement agreement was filed with the court and approved on May 12, 2008. The plaintiff agreed to dismiss the action and that the settlement resolves any potential claims by class members relating to the allegation that they were denied the right to participate in work release because of a disability. The DOC denied any liability in discriminating against disabled prisoners, but as a result of the action, the DOC voluntarily underwent a significant effort to alter and revise various policies and procedures and has taken other steps designed to minimize the future potential for discriminating against disabled persons in connection with work release. The DOC agreed to pay named Plaintiff $30,000 for his contributions towards the action. The DOC also agreed to pay each class member $1,800 (for a total class settlement of $298,800) and to separately pay attorneys fees. Ashley Grolig - 09/26/2014