University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Adams v. Kentucky DR-KY-0001
Docket / Court 3:14-cv-00001-GFVT ( E.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On January 1, 2014, deaf and hard of hearing prisoners in the Kentucky prison system filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Corrections, ... read more >
On January 1, 2014, deaf and hard of hearing prisoners in the Kentucky prison system filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated against the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky Department of Corrections, several other departments of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and by the Washington Lawyers' Committee Prisoners Rights Project, alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the First Amendment, and asked the court for preliminary injunctive relief, certification as a class action, declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages.

Specifically, plaintiffs alleged that the defendants discriminated against them by denying or reducing the plaintiffs' access to telecommunication equipment such as Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD) and videophones that would allow them to communicate with their friends, family and attorneys outside of the prison system. Plaintiffs who use American Sign Language were denied interpretive service resulting in the denial of governmental services like educational, employment training and opportunities, and heath care programs on the basis of their disability. Plaintiffs were also denied translation services during religious ceremonies and were not provided with an effective means of receiving prison announcements. Lastly, plaintiffs claimed that defendants failed to provide them with interpreters or other aids at disciplinary hearings, thereby denying them the right to hear the charges against them and defend themselves.

The parties reached a settlement and appointed a monitor and the court approved on June 24, 2015. The settlement required the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC) to ensure a full and equal access to all services and accommodations; assign a staff member at each KDOC adult institution as an ADA coordinator; during initial intake provide effective communication, hearing assessment, and auxiliary aids and services in the form of qualified interpreters, etc.; ensure staff awareness through identification cards; provide deaf inmates with interpretation of materials; provide deaf inmates with a schedule showing when interpretation services are available; ensure deaf and hard of hearing inmates get equal access to on-site and off-site medical care, various programs, work assignments, religious services, any meetings relating to transfer and classification matters; provide interpretation for disciplinary proceedings, announcements, alarms and any other information audibly conveyed to the inmates; provide telecommunication devices and other adequate technology devices; and train KDOC employees on the implementation of new policies.

On February, 2016, the monitor filed the first semi-annual report. The report stated that the payment to plaintiff and plaintiff's counsel was made; the requirement of hiring ADA Coordinators were nearly compliant; videophone installation is apparently compliant; free access to videophone, provision of qualified interpreters for unscheduled medical emergencies, and provision of qualified interpreters for disciplinary hearings were unclear; informational materials were partially compliant; the routine and situational reporting were difficult or partially noncompliant; and training was noncompliant.

Brian Kempfer - 03/10/2014
Soojin Cha - 06/23/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Communication skills
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
TTY/Close Captioning/etc.
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Kentucky Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Deaf and hard of hearing inmates in the Kentucky prison system
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
3:14-cv-00001-GFVT (E.D. Ky.) 06/23/2016
DR-KY-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 01/01/2014
DR-KY-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 10/01/2014
DR-KY-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dismiss on Behalf of Bobbie Underwood 10/30/2014
DR-KY-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer to Amended Complaint 10/30/2014
DR-KY-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dismiss on Behalf of Gary Beckstrom, Don Bottoms, Alan Brown, Janet Conover, Steve Haney, Kathy Litteral, Joseph Meko, Ravonne Sims, and Steve Woodward 10/30/2014
DR-KY-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Judgment 06/24/2015 (E.D. Ky.)
DR-KY-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Settlement Agreement 06/24/2015
DR-KY-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Semi-Annual Report 02/04/2016
DR-KY-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Van Tatenhove, Gregory Frederick (E.D. Ky.)
DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters Schlanger, Margo (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0007
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ansley, W. Sutton (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Bathurst, Camille (Kentucky)
DR-KY-0001-0001 | DR-KY-0001-0002 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Belzley, Gregory A. (Kentucky)
DR-KY-0001-0001 | DR-KY-0001-0002 | DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-0008 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Echemendia, Kristen M. (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-9000
Garthe, Zachary C. (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0001 | DR-KY-0001-0002 | DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-0008 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Goodman, Sarah M. (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-9000
McCarthy, Patrick T. (New York)
DR-KY-0001-0001 | DR-KY-0001-0002 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Miller, Ralph I. (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-0008 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Mincberg, Elliot M. (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Murphy, Kristen (District of Columbia)
DR-KY-0001-0006
Defendant's Lawyers Dunham, Angela T. (Kentucky)
DR-KY-0001-0003 | DR-KY-0001-0004 | DR-KY-0001-0005 | DR-KY-0001-0006 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Henning, J. Todd (Kentucky)
DR-KY-0001-0003 | DR-KY-0001-0004 | DR-KY-0001-0005 | DR-KY-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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