On June 20, 2011, two deaf prisoners filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina against the federal Bureau of Prisons. Represented by private counsel and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the plaintiffs filed pursuant to Bivens claiming violations of the Rehabilitation Act and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. In addition, the plaintiffs alleged violations of their Fifth Amendment due process rights, First Amendment Freedom of Speech, and First Amendment Free Exercise of Religion. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants refused to provide them with effective communication and auxiliary aids necessary to accommodate their disability. The discriminatory conduct deprived the plaintiffs of their ability to receive adequate and informed medical treatment, participate in institutional disciplinary proceedings, effectively take part in any rehabilitative, educational, or religious programs, or communicate with those within and outside the institution. The plaintiffs requested declaratory and injunctive relief.
On April 11, 2012, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On June 22, 2011, the case was transferred to Judge James C. Dever, with a revised case number of 5:11-ct-3118. The defendants then filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. The plaintiffs also filed for summary judgment on count two of their amended complaint.
On March 11, 2013, Judge Dever denied the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on count two, granted the defendants' motion to dismiss in part and denied in part, and denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. Judge Dever dismissed count one under the Rehabilitation Act for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Judge Dever dismissed count five under the Fifth Amendment for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Eight claims of the plaintiffs' claims survived. 2013 WL 943406 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 11, 2013).
Discovery was contested and the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the production of documents. On September 12, 2014, the district court issued an ordering denying the plaintiffs' motion to compel the production of documents from the defendants. 2014 WL 4545946 (E.D.N.C. Sept. 12, 2014).
On March 31, 2015, the Court granted in part the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, denied the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment, and dismissed as moot the remaining counts of the amended complaint. 2015 WL 1470877 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 31, 2015). The plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on May 27, 2015. The case went to the Fourth Circuit as Appeal No. 15-6826.
On November 5, 2015, after the plaintiffs submitted their appellate brief and while the defendants’ response brief was pending, Plaintiff Boyd filed a notice notifying the Fourth Circuit that he had “some limited ability to hear and understand speech in certain contexts.” See Notice, Appeal No. 15-6826, at Doc. 31. On this date, Boyd also filed a motion for voluntary dismissal of his appeal, and proposed that each party bear its own costs and attorneys’ fees. The U.S. opposed this proposal. The matter is currently pending review and disposition by the Fourth Circuit. On January 4, 2016, the district court dismissed Boyd's motion for a voluntary dismissal because the court lacked jurisdiction. As of April 22, 2016, the appeal is still pending before the Fourth Circuit.Jessica Kincaid - 04/22/2016