State appeals judgment for deaf litigant denied interpreter

October 25, 2016

The state of Indiana is appealing a federal court ruling that a deaf Indianapolis man was discriminated against when he was denied an interpreter for a court-ordered mediation session in his child custody case.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office filed a notice of appeal Friday and will challenge the ruling in favor of Dustin King at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled in May that Marion County courts discriminated against King and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying him an interpreter to participate in the federally funded modest means mediation program.

King ultimately participated in the mediation with the assistance of a family member who could interpret American Sign Language. Magnus-Stinson wrote that Marion County’s offer to waive the mediation requirement was not a reasonable accommodation, and that the court acted with deliberate indifference in denying a qualified interpreter to which King was entitled under Title II of the ADA.

Magnus-Stinson previously rejected the state’s request for an interlocutory appeal and last month awarded King $10,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $380 in attorney fees for the process of requesting an interpreter through the court.

King is entitled to legal fees for prevailing in this action before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Magnus-Stinson last month ordered a petition for attorney fees from King’s legal team led by Indianapolis attorney Andrea Ciobanu delayed until after appeals are resolved.


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