University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Simmons v. Montana Women's Prison PC-MT-0009
Docket / Court HRB CASE NO. 0131016277 ( No Court )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In August 2018, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Montana Women’s Prison, alleged that the Prison discriminated against her based on her religion, gender, and disability. Her religious discrimination claims were based on allegations that the Prison denied her a Jehovah’s Witness bible and ... read more >
In August 2018, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Montana Women’s Prison, alleged that the Prison discriminated against her based on her religion, gender, and disability. Her religious discrimination claims were based on allegations that the Prison denied her a Jehovah’s Witness bible and allowed other religious groups to use the prison chapel for worship services but denied the Jehovah’s Witness’s request. She also alleged that the Montana State Prison provided male prisoners more opportunities to learn trade skills than female prisoners. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered from a condition that caused her to fall easily. She requested a handicap-accessible shower and alleged that the denial constituted a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.

In February 2019, the Montana Human Rights Bureau reported finding insufficient evidence to sustain the first two claims and the disability claim, but found reasonable cause to believe that access to the prison chapel was granted in a discriminatory manner.

The parties settled in October 2019. The Montana Women’s Prison agreed to pay the plaintiff $1,000 and pay $4,400 in attorneys’ fees. The settlement also stipulated that a warden must undergo training on religious rights and the prison must determine if there were any other instances of discrimination in the past year and, if so, propose a solution. Montana Women’s Prison agreed to allow prisoners to attend religious services even if they are prohibited from other activities like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or yoga. Finally, the Prison agreed to purchase a typewriter for the plaintiff to use in her cell.

Justin Hill - 03/08/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Provide antidiscrimination training
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Religion discrimination
Sex discrimination
General
Religious programs / policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Montana Women's Prison
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff was a prisoner in the Montana Women's Prison.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 08/20/2018
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Charge of Discrimination
PC-MT-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/20/2018
Conciliation Agreement
PC-MT-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2019
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Holm, Eric E. (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0009-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Eakin, Ira (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0009-0001

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