Criminal Justice

Clemons v. Dart, 168 F.Supp.3d 1060 (N.D. Ill. 2016)
This case was brought by an inmate in the county jail who used a wheelchair but was not assigned to an accessible room. The jail provided the inmate access to around-the-clock nursing services, and the nurses helped him access the sink, shower, and toilet. The jail defending this ADA and Rehabilitation Act lawsuit, arguing that there was no violation because the nursing staff successfully enabled a plaintiff to access all facilities. The court, however, rejected this argument when denying the jail’s motion for summary judgment. The court explained that on-demand nursing support was not equivalent to providing an accessible cell because it reduced plaintiff’s ability to engage in independent living to the fullest extent possible. The court further clarified that Title II “requires affirmative, proactive accommodations necessary to ensure meaningful access to public services and programs, not accommodation upon request.” A jury ultimately found for the plaintiff, awarding him $95,000. Following the jury verdict, the jail appealed and the case was remanded. The parties then reached a settlement whereby the jail paid the full amount of damages awarded by the jury as well as agreed attorneys’ fees and costs. The parties asked the court to vacate the judgment to further the settlement agreement, which he reluctantly did, given that the jury verdict was fully satisfied by the settlement agreement.


Public Schools

OCR Investigation: Ashby (MN) School District, 54 NDLR 151 (OCRV Chicago (MN) 2016)
A complaint was filed against a Minnesota school district alleging that it discriminated against a student with epilepsy because it did not make her medication available during all school activities, including during field trips, afterschool activities, and on the school bus. The complainants also asserted that the district failed to ensure that school personnel would administer medication to the student if she was having a seizure at school. The district responded quickly to OCR’s investigation and engaged in a number of actions. Specifically, it worked with the school nurse, medical professionals, and the complainant’s family to develop a seizure action plan that, among other things, noted where the student’s medication was located throughout the building. The district also trained a number of staff on how to administer medication in an emergency setting. Following these actions, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights closed its investigation.