On August 28, 2007, three deaf individuals and two deaf advocacy groups filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado against the City and County of Denver, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, the Center for the Rights of Parents with Disabilities, and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, money damages, and attorney's fees and costs, claiming that Denver violated the plaintiffs' rights when it denied them access to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, or other effective forms of communication, resulting in the death of one plaintiff and injury to the others.
The complaint alleged that each plaintiff, on separate occasions, was arrested and processed without the assistance of an ASL interpreter or provided an alternative means of communication during and after booking, resulting in harm. The first listed plaintiffs, a mother and the Estate of her son, claimed that the detention facility and jail where the decedent was held negligently caused the decedent's suicide. The Order on Pending Motions, 742 F. Supp. 2d 1192 (D. Colo. 2010)
explains that the decedent was arrested on felony charges and subsequently processed and screened for mental health issues, with no noted concerns. After being held in the local jail for about a month, segregated from the general population and without access to a TTD phone, closed captioning television, or an ASL interpreter, the decedent hung himself. Nurse rounds note no concerns for depression or other possible mental illnesses, but these were not conducted through an interpreter.
The second listed individual on the complaint, hereinafter referred to as "K," was arrested at a Greyhound station after he got into a scuffle with a security guard. After being treated for a broken ankle, plaintiff K was processed and placed in a segregated cell at the local detention facility. He was arraigned the same day and pled guilty to three charges, without the assistance of counsel or an interpreter, and via handwritten notes.
The final plaintiff listed on the complaint, hereinafter referred to as "B," was arrested in her home on a bench warrant. According to the Order on Pending Motions
, the police used her daughter and notes to communicate the reason for her arrest. Plaintiff B tried to communicate her diabetic condition and need for meds, but the officer refused to accept her medications. While waiting at the police station, her blood sugar became dangerously low but she remained unable to communicate her status to the police. was not given food or an interpreter to further discuss her medical needs. The jail released Plaintiff B at 2:00am, without affording her access to a functioning TTD phone to arrange transportation, and she returned home via train at 5:30am. She narrowly escaped an attempted sexual assault on her way home.
On September 30, 2010, the District Court (Judge Walker Miller) granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion for summary judgment. The District Court granted the motion for summary judgment on the constitutional claims, and on the claims against the individual defendants in their personal capacity, but denied in part the defendants' motion as to plaintiffs' claims based on the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act, and denied the motions for summary judgment as to the state negligence and wrongful death claims.
On September 7, 2012, the parties reached a private settlement. The defendants, City and County of Denver, agreed to pay the sum of $695,000 to the plaintiffs in order to settle any and all claims. The plaintiffs agreed to release the defendants from all claims arising out of the alleged incidents. On October 4th, 2012, the District Court (Judge Miller)dismissed the case with prejudice after having been informed of the parties' settlement agreement. This ended the case. Gregory Pitt - 07/19/2012
Nick Kabat - 10/02/2014