On January 29, 2010, inmates in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) who were deaf or hard of hearing filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and Virginia state law against Virginia state agencies, departments, and employees thereof. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages, claiming that the defendants refused to comply with state and federal laws protecting the rights of the plaintiffs. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants failed to provide adequate access to qualified sign language interpreters, adequate notification of daily events and safety announcements, and adequate means to communicate with individuals outside of prison.
On April 13, 2010, the plaintiffs filed the first amended class action complaint.
On May 11, 2010, upon consideration of the plaintiffs' consent motion to voluntarily dismiss Counts III, IV, IX, and X of the plaintiffs' first amended class action complaint, Judge Ellis dismissed the four counts. On June 21, 2010, the plaintiffs entered a stipulation for voluntary dismissal of three of the individual defendants.
On September 14, 2010, the plaintiffs and the medical provider defendants reach a private settlement agreement in which the defendants agreed to pay a total of $37,500 to the plaintiffs and to the plaintiffs' attorneys and to amend policies to ensure protection of the rights of the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all claims against these defendants.
On October 18, 2010, the plaintiffs and the VDOC defendants reached a private settlement agreement in which the defendants agreed to ensure that deaf inmates would no longer be discriminated against and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all remaining claims. The settlement covers a wide variety of issues, including general policies, initial classification, assessment and assignment, housing, provision of auxiliary aids and services, qualifications and use of sign language interpreters, additional communications, disciplinary matters, visual alert notifications, telecommunication devices, training, and monitoring and compliance.
On November 9, 2010, the plaintiffs entered a consent motion for voluntary dismissal of the VDOC defendants. On November 15, 2010, the parties entered a stipulation of voluntary dismissal for all claims. The next day, Judge Ellis dismissed all claims.Jessica Kincaid - 07/07/2014