University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Jones v. National Conference of Bar Examiners DR-VT-0001
Docket / Court 5:11-cv-00174-cr ( D. Vt. )
State/Territory Vermont
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On July 1, 2011, a law student who was legally blind and learning disabled filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont against the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the ACT, which administrated the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The ... read more >
On July 1, 2011, a law student who was legally blind and learning disabled filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont against the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the ACT, which administrated the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the ADA by refusing to allow the plaintiff to take an electronic version of MPRE with screen reading and magnification software she had used for all of her post-secondary education. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for a preliminary injunction, declaratory and injunctive relief and attorney's fees.

On July 20, 2011, the United States Department of Justice submitted a Statement of Interest support plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction and asking the court not to adopt the "reasonableness" standard advocated by the defendants. Instead, it argued that the court should adopt the United States Department of Justice's reading of the relevant provisions of the ADA to established a standard that "best ensures" that the aptitude of the examinee is measured by the test and not their disability.

On August 2, 2011, the District Court (Chief Judge Christina Reiss) granted plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to allow her to use her screen reading and magnifying software on the MPRE, finding a high likelihood of harm and a likelihood that plaintiff would win the case. The District Court also adopted the "best ensures" standard advocated by the United States Department of Justice.

On September 7, 2011, the District Court (Chief Judge Reiss) granted defendants' motion to amend the preliminary injunction to include different types of software, denied defendants' motion to amend the preliminary injunction to prevent others from taking the test using plaintiff's accommodations, and denied defendant's motion for a stay that would allow it to keep from giving plaintiff her score until she was ready to apply for admission to the bar in 2012.

On August 15, 2011, defendant appealed the District Court's order to grant plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction, which was dismissed as moot.

On August 9, 2012, the plaintiff and defendants entered a joint order requesting final judgment and noting that defendants agreed to let plaintiff take, and if necessary retake, the test with accommodations.

On August 13, 2012, the District Court (Chief Judge Reiss) awarded the plaintiff $275,000 in attorney's fees and closed the case.

Brian Kempfer - 03/17/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Disability
Mental impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-area
Testing
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Screen readers and similar accessibility devices
Test or device
Testing
Mental Disability
Learning disability
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) ACT, Inc.
National Conference of Bar Examiners
Plaintiff Description legally blind and learning disabled law student
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
5:11−cv−00174 (D. Vt.) 08/13/2012
DR-VT-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/01/2011
DR-VT-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States of America Regarding Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction 07/20/2011
DR-VT-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction 08/02/2011 (801 F.Supp.2d 270) (D. Vt.)
DR-VT-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Further Modification of Preliminary Injunciton and Conditional Motion for a Stay 09/07/2011 (D. Vt.)
DR-VT-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 12/29/2011
DR-VT-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Summary Order 05/17/2012 (476 Fed.Appx. 957)
DR-VT-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Entry of Final Judgment 08/09/2012
DR-VT-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment 08/13/2012 (D. Vt.)
DR-VT-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Leval, Pierre Nelson (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
DR-VT-0001-0006
Pooler, Rosemary S. (Second Circuit, N.D.N.Y.)
DR-VT-0001-0006
Reiss, Christina Clair (D. Vt.)
DR-VT-0001-0003 | DR-VT-0001-0004 | DR-VT-0001-0008 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Walker, John Mercer Jr. (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
DR-VT-0001-0006
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coe, Trevor (Maryland)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-0005 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Elder, Timothy R. (California)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Goldstein, Daniel F (Maryland)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-0005 | DR-VT-0001-0007 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Joselson, Emily J. (Vermont)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-0005 | DR-VT-0001-0007 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Labarre, Scott C. (Colorado)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-0005 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Patton, Michele B. (Vermont)
DR-VT-0001-0001 | DR-VT-0001-0005 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burgoyne, Robert Anthony (District of Columbia)
DR-VT-0001-0007 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Coffin, Tristram J. (District of Columbia)
DR-VT-0001-0002
Hemley, Robert B. (Vermont)
DR-VT-0001-9000
Kerest, Nikolas P. (Vermont)
DR-VT-0001-0002
McAndrew, Karen (Vermont)
DR-VT-0001-0007 | DR-VT-0001-9000
Mew, Caroline M. (District of Columbia)
DR-VT-0001-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)
DR-VT-0001-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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