University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Christensen v. Utah State University DR-UT-0001
Docket / Court 1:06-CV-00057 ( D. Utah )
State/Territory Utah
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On May 8, 2006, twelve deaf Utah State University students filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, against Utah State and its Board of Regents. The case was brought under Title II of the Americans with ... read more >
On May 8, 2006, twelve deaf Utah State University students filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Utah, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, against Utah State and its Board of Regents. The case was brought under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, with the Plaintiffs alleging that the Defendants had discriminated against them in many ways, including: denying them access to the full benefit of the University's programs, services, and activities; failing to provide for effective communication through the use of auxiliary aids and services; failing or refusing to provide timely accommodations; utilizing discriminatory policies, practices and procedures that tend to screen out students who are deaf; and failing to meet the ADA's mandate to provide services in the most integrated setting. The students were represented by private counsel.

Factual allegations included: that the University failed to provide accommodations for the use of American Sign Language, by providing unqualified or under-qualified interpreters -- the University allegedly justified this by claiming that it could not find qualified interpreters, but declined to hire such qualified interpreters when students presented them the opportunity; that the University's program for providing notes to deaf students was inadequate to the point that notes were often provided to students only long after the tests or exams for which they were relevant had already occurred; that students were sometimes required to attend classes where no interpreters were provided; that in some such classes the University's proposed solution was to have students make audio recordings of classes and them have them transcribed later, forcing students to sit through classes they could not understand or participate in, and then review transcripts during their free time. There were further examples of similar alleged violations.

The plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment an injunction requiring Utah State to adopt written policies and training programs to correct the alleged violations and to require them to provide appropriate auxiliary aids, services, and accommodations. The plaintiffs also sought attorneys' fees and damages for financial loss and emotional distress.

On April 17, 2007, the parties entered a Stipulation and Joint Motion for Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice, requesting the court dismiss the case, which it did the following day. The parties had reached a settlement, the terms of which were not included in the Court record. According to news reports, the school promised to employ one full-time staff interpreter for every two deaf students who needed those services, with the interpreters to be available to students to interpret during classes, on-campus meetings and on-campus extracurricular activities. Transcript service and note-taking services would continue, and if students felt they were behind they could receive tutoring.

Alex Colbert-Taylor - 06/03/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
College/University
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Communication skills
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Failure to train
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
School/University Facilities
School/University policies
Testing
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.
Defendant(s) Utah
Utah
Plaintiff Description The class of deaf students at Utah State University, represented by 12 named plaintiffs, alleging that the University and its Board of Regents failed to provide the accommodations mandated by the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2006 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2007
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:06-cv-00057-DB (D. Utah) 04/18/2007
DR-UT-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint and Jury Demand 05/08/2006
DR-UT-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Joint Motion for Voluntary Dismissal with Prejudice 04/17/2007
DR-UT-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Dismissal with Prejudice 04/18/2007 (D. Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Benson, Dee Vance (FISC, D. Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0002 | DR-UT-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Armknecht, Richard F. III (Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0001 | DR-UT-0001-9000
Boam, Dale H. (Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0001 | DR-UT-0001-9000
Cowdell, Tracy S. (Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0001 | DR-UT-0001-0002 | DR-UT-0001-0003 | DR-UT-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Jones, Joni J. (Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0003 | DR-UT-0001-9000
Shurtleff, Mark L. (Utah)
DR-UT-0001-0002 | DR-UT-0001-0003
Other Lawyers None on record

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