University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wolfe v. Portland PN-OR-0010
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-01882-BR ( D. Or. )
State/Territory Oregon
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Special Collection Litigation Against Federal Police (2020)
Police Violence Protests (Spring/Summer 2020)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
This case involved allegations that local, state, and federal law enforcement failed to accommodate people with disabilities during public assemblies and protests.

Four Portland, Oregon residents with disabilities, along with Disability Rights Oregon, filed suit in the U.S. District ... read more >
This case involved allegations that local, state, and federal law enforcement failed to accommodate people with disabilities during public assemblies and protests.

Four Portland, Oregon residents with disabilities, along with Disability Rights Oregon, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon (Portland) on November 1, 2020. Defendants included the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Director of the U.S. Marshals, the Superintendent of the Oregon State Police, the City of Portland, the Mayor of Portland, Portland’s Chief of Police, Multnomah County, and the county’s sheriff. Plaintiffs were represented by private counsel, the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, and the Disability Rights Legal Center. Plaintiffs cited the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 42 U.S.C. § 12101, the Rehabilitation Act 29 U.S.C. § 701, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs also cited Bivens which allows a lawsuit for damages when a federal officer violates the U.S. Constitution within their official capacity. The case was initially assigned to Judge Anna Brown but was reassigned to Judge Michael Simon the following day.

Plaintiffs had four key allegations. First, law enforcement harassed and retaliated against people with disabilities for exercising their constitutional rights. Second, law enforcement failed to make reasonable accommodations for those with sight, hearing, mobility, or other disabilities when dispersing a crowd. Third, people with disabilities were not given the opportunity to comply with law enforcement orders before being subject to force. Fourth, law enforcement discriminated against gender-nonconforming protestors. This included both misgendering individuals and refusing to house protestors in law enforcement custody according to their gender identity. Plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief. They sought injunctive relief to modify police practices to address needs of people with disabilities. Plaintiffs also sought compensatory and punitive damages for physical and mental injuries sustained while at protests dispersed by police.

Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on February 8, 2021. They claimed those with disabilities both needed immediate protection against excessive force and also needed modifications to police policies to protect people with disabilities at protests. They sought to have police provide American Sign Language interpreters and visual messaging systems; cease aggressive tactics like “bull rushes” against protestors; cease using chemical munitions; cease using strobe lights; cease separating people with disabilities from their assistants or service animals; and provide and inform protestors of alternative paths of escape before dispersing crowds.

Defendants filed multiple motions to dismiss on March 15, 2021. Two motions were filed by the U.S. Marshals and DHS. The first motion was for failure to state a claim. They argued for qualified immunity and that plaintiffs had alternative remedies that precluded Bivens remedies. The second motion was for a lack of jurisdiction. They argued plaintiffs’ claims were moot as the U.S. Marshals and DHS were not involved in the Portland protests. The next three motions to dismiss were filed by the Oregon State Police, Multnomah County, the City of Portland. They all presented similar arguments that plaintiffs failed to plead specific enough facts to allege systemic or specific instances of discrimination against the disabled.

A hearing on plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction was held on July 13, 2021. As of July 31, 2021, the motion was still pending, as were defendants' motions to dismiss.

Rachel Harrington - 02/19/2021
Eric Gripp - 07/31/2021

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
disability, unspecified
Hearing impairment
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Gender identity
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Effective Communication (ADA)
Excessive force
Pepper/OC spray
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) City of Portland
Multnomah County
State of Oregon
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Four Portland, Oregon residents with disabilities and the organization Disability Rights Oregon in its capacity as the federally mandated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities in the state of Oregon.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 11/01/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Lawsuit: Law enforcement fails to provide Oregonians with disabilities equal access to Portland demonstrations
Date: Nov. 2, 2020
By: Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Or.
PN-OR-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Or.
Complaint for Declaratory, Injunctive Relief, and Damages [ECF# 1]
PN-OR-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Simon, Michael Howard (D. Or.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Campbell, Bruce L. (Oregon) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Clarke, John C. (Oregon) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Fox, Timothy Patrick (Colorado) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Gonzales Morales, Pilar (Colorado) show/hide docs
Gonzalez Morales, Maria Del Pilar (California) show/hide docs
Hamme, Brendan (California) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Knauf, Christopher (California) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Pinggera, Anthony C (California) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Robertson, Amy Farr (Colorado) show/hide docs
Runkles-Pearson, P.K. (Oregon) show/hide docs
PN-OR-0010-0001 | PN-OR-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baumchen, Drew K (Oregon) show/hide docs
Clendenen, Michael Patrick (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Gilmore, Christopher A (Oregon) show/hide docs
Law, Linda S (Oregon) show/hide docs
Simon, Daniel A (Oregon) show/hide docs
Vu, Linh T (Oregon) show/hide docs
Woodard, Elizabeth C (Oregon) show/hide docs

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