ILNews

Deaf courtroom spectator gets $124,500 settlement from state of Indiana

Marilyn Odendahl
July 20, 2015
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A deaf Indiana man who was denied a sign-language interpreter in court has reached a $124,500 settlement with the state of Indiana.

The settlement, which is being hailed by the National Association of the Deaf, comes more than three years after Steven “Matt” Prakel, who is deaf, filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Indiana and the judiciary for violating Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Under the terms of the settlement reached July 17, the plaintiffs are dismissing their claims against two judges and one magistrate judge in Dearborn County in exchange for monetary restitution, according to Prakel’s attorneys. The state of Indiana will pay Prakel and his mother, Carolyn Prakel, $10,000 each in compensatory damages along with $104,500 to their counsel, Stein & Vargas LLP.

The settlement notes the defendants deny all the claims alleged by the plaintiffs and do not admit any violation of any state or federal law or of any liability.

“Courts throughout the United States must provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication with deaf and hard of hearing individuals, whether they are parties, witnesses, jurors, judges or spectators,” Howard A. Rosenblum, chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf stated in a press release. “This case affirms this basic legal right.”

Prakel filed the lawsuit April 2012 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana after the Dearborn Superior Court No. 1 and Dearborn Circuit Court would not pay for an interpreter so he could understand his mother’s criminal proceedings. The courts contended they did not have to provide Prakel an interpreter because he was a spectator, not a participant in the proceedings.

Among the parties named as defendants were Dearborn Judges James Humphrey and Jonathan Cleary along with Magistrate Judge Kimberly Schmaltz, the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and the division of state court administration.

The District Court subsequently dismissed the case against the state, the chief justice and the state court administration but allowed the suit to proceed against the Dearborn judges and magistrate judge.

In March, the District Court rejected the Dearborn judiciary’s claim of immunity and the case was headed to trial. The District Court entered an order on June 22 that the parties had entered settlement negotiations.

“All I wanted to do was to understand what was being said in court,” Prakel said after the settlement was reached. “Courts need to be accessible when a deaf person attends a court hearing.”

Prakel and his mother were presented by the National Association of the Deaf, Stein & Vargas LLP and the Lorch Law Office LLC.  

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. It's an appreciable step taken by the government to curb the child abuse that are happening in the schools. Employees in the schools those are selected without background check can not be trusted. A thorough background check on the teachers or any other other new employees must be performed to choose the best and quality people. Those who are already employed in the past should also be checked for best precaution. The future of kids can be saved through this simple process. However, the checking process should be conducted by the help of a trusted background checking agency(https://www.affordablebackgroundchecks.com/).

  2. Almost everything connects to internet these days. From your computers and Smartphones to wearable gadgets and smart refrigerators in your home, everything is linked to the Internet. Although this convenience empowers usto access our personal devices from anywhere in the world such as an IP camera, it also deprives control of our online privacy. Cyber criminals, hackers, spies and everyone else has realized that we don’t have complete control on who can access our personal data. We have to take steps to to protect it like keeping Senseless password. Dont leave privacy unprotected. Check out this article for more ways: https://www.purevpn.com/blog/data-privacy-in-the-age-of-internet-of-things/

  3. You need to look into Celadon not paying sign on bonuses. We call get the run

  4. My parents took advantage of the fact that I was homeless in 2012 and went to court and got Legal Guardianship I my 2 daughters. I am finally back on my feet and want them back, but now they want to fight me on it. I want to raise my children and have them almost all the time on the weekends. Mynparents are both almost 70 years old and they play favorites which bothers me a lot. Do I have a leg to stand on if I go to court to terminate lehal guardianship? My kids want to live with me and I want to raise them, this was supposed to be temporary, and now it is turning into a fight. Ridiculous

  5. Here's my two cents. While in Texas in 2007 I was not registered because I only had to do it for ten years. So imagine my surprise as I find myself forced to register in Texas because indiana can't get their head out of their butt long enough to realize they passed an ex post facto law in 2006. So because Indiana had me listed as a failure to register Texas said I had to do it there. Now if Indiana had done right by me all along I wouldn't need the aclu to defend my rights. But such is life.

ADVERTISEMENT