Case: Zemedagegehu v. Arthur and related DOJ matter

1:15-cv-00057 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

Filed Date: Jan. 15, 2015

Closed Date: 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 15, 2015, a deaf, Ethiopian-born American citizen filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The plaintiff sued the Arlington County Sheriff and Virginia Department of Corrections. The suit was brought under two federal statutes: Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiff, represented by both private counsel and counsel from the National Association of the Deaf, sought…

On January 15, 2015, a deaf, Ethiopian-born American citizen filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The plaintiff sued the Arlington County Sheriff and Virginia Department of Corrections. The suit was brought under two federal statutes: Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiff, represented by both private counsel and counsel from the National Association of the Deaf, sought compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees.

In the complaint, the plaintiff alleged that he was not provided with American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters during his detention at the Arlington County Detention Facility (Detention Facility) following his arrest at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for allegedly stealing an iPad. Because the plaintiff is originally from Ethiopia, he struggles to understand, read, and write English. His primary way of communicating is through ASL. When he was arrested, the plaintiff attempted to ask for an ASL interpreter because he did not understand why he was being detained. The officers responded by writing notes to the plaintiff; however, he could not understand what they were writing.

Plaintiff remained at the Detention Center for approximately six weeks. During that time, he did not have access to an interpreter to communicate his dietary and medical needs. He also did not have access to a videophone to speak to his public defender. Throughout his stay at the Detention Center, plaintiff made multiple requests for interpreters and other services to allow him to communicate with the Detention Facility’s staff, but these requests were denied. He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property in exchange for a sentence of time served. He later explained that he did not understand why he was arrested until he went to court and that he pleaded guilty only to get out of jail. His alleged victim — another deaf, homeless man who was sleeping at the airport — eventually withdrew the allegation, saying he had made a mistake and that the missing iPad had been found.

The defendants immediately moved to dismiss the claims. On April 28, 2015 Judge James C. Cacheris granted the state-level officials’ motion to dismiss and denied the sheriff’s motion to dismiss. The judge reasoned that the plaintiff’s allegations, if true, showed the sheriff did not do anything to accommodate the plaintiff’s disability under Title II of the ADA.

The plaintiff’s allegations in the complaint compelled the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia to investigate the case. The investigation substantiated the majority of the plaintiff’s allegations and uncovered the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office’s general failure to comply with the ADA. As a result, ACSO entered settlement negotiations with the Department of Justice (represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia). On November 16, 2016, the ACSO signed a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. The agreement stipulated that Arlington County had to pay the plaintiff $250,000. Furthermore, the settlement required that ACSO take steps to better accommodate inmates with disabilities. ACSO agreed to, amongst other things, appoint employees to coordinate ADA compliance, modify policies/procedures to screen prisoners who have disabilities, provide additional auxiliary aids and interpretive services to inmates who are deaf or hearing disabled, and revamp procedures to keep track of services provided to prisoners. It will stay in effect for three years, after which the matter will be closed.

Back in the court case, on December 20, 2016, the court entered a voluntary dismissal.

Summary Authors

Amelia Huckins (1/24/2017)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4406916/parties/zemedagegehu-v-arlington-county-board/


Judge(s)

Cacheris, James Chris (Virginia)

Nachmanoff, Michael Stefan (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Goodrich, Jonathan Graham (District of Columbia)

Gordon, Steven Eric (Virginia)

Jackson, Caroline E. (Maryland)

Patkin, Debra (California)

Perez, Carolyn (District of Columbia)

Tanenbaum, Larry (District of Columbia)

Wetzler, Lauren A. (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Arthur, Elizabeth F. (Virginia)

Judge(s)

Cacheris, James Chris (Virginia)

Nachmanoff, Michael Stefan (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Goodrich, Jonathan Graham (District of Columbia)

Gordon, Steven Eric (Virginia)

Jackson, Caroline E. (Maryland)

Patkin, Debra (California)

Perez, Carolyn (District of Columbia)

Tanenbaum, Larry (District of Columbia)

Wetzler, Lauren A. (Virginia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Arthur, Elizabeth F. (Virginia)

Davidson, Nancy Hull (Virginia)

Francuzenko, Alexander (Virginia)

Parsons, John Michael (Virginia)

Tramblian, Ara Loris (Virginia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Zemedagegehu v. Arlington County Board

Dec. 20, 2016 Docket
1

Complaint

Zemedagegehu v. Arthur

Jan. 15, 2015 Complaint
21

First Amended Complaint

Zemedagegehu v. Arthur

Feb. 19, 2015 Complaint
44

Memorandum Opinion [Motions to Dismiss]

Zemedagegehu v. Arthur

2015 WL 1930539

April 28, 2015 Order/Opinion

Settlement Agreement Between the United States of America and Elizabeth F. Arthur, In Her Official Capacity as the Arlington County Sheriff

DOJ out-of-court settlement with Arlington County

No Court

Nov. 16, 2016 Settlement Agreement

Resources

Title Description External URL

This Deaf Immigrant Was Ignored in Jail. Now He Will Get $250,000.

Rachel Weiner

Nov. 19, 2016 https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/deaf-man-wins-250000-settlement-from-arlington-jail/2016/11/18/f44f6fce-adc9-11e6-8b45-f8e493f06fcd_story.html?utm_term=.b8bcbe19a309

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4406916/zemedagegehu-v-arlington-county-board/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against Arlington County Board, Arlington County Detention Facility, Arlington County Sheriff's Office filed by Abreham Zemedagegehu ( Filing fee $ 400.00, receipt number 14683048877). (Attachments: # 1 Cover Letter, # 2 Civil Cover Sheet, # 3 Receipt)(pmil, ) (Entered: 01/22/2015)

1 Cover Letter

View on PACER

2 Civil Cover Sheet

View on RECAP

3 Receipt

View on PACER

Jan. 15, 2015 RECAP
2

Summons Issued for service by SPS as to Arlington County Board, Arlington County Detention Facility, Arlington County Sheriff's Office. (pmil, ) (Entered: 01/22/2015)

Jan. 15, 2015 PACER
3

SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Arlington County Detention Facility; served on 1/15/2015, answer due 2/5/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 01/23/2015)

Jan. 22, 2015 PACER
4

SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Arlington County Sheriff's Office; served on 1/15/2015, answer due 2/5/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 01/23/2015)

Jan. 22, 2015 PACER
5

SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Arlington County Board; served on 1/15/2015, answer due 2/5/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 01/23/2015)

Jan. 22, 2015 PACER
6

MOTION to Dismiss by Arlington County Detention Facility, Arlington County Sheriff's Office. (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
7

Memorandum in Support re 6 MOTION to Dismiss filed by Arlington County Detention Facility, Arlington County Sheriff's Office. (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
8

Notice of Hearing Date set for March 13, 2015; 10:00 am re 6 MOTION to Dismiss (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
9

Notice of Hearing Date AMENDED set for Thursday, March 12, 2015; 10:00 am re 6 MOTION to Dismiss (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
10

MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim by Arlington County Board. (Tramblian, Ara) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
11

Memorandum in Support re 10 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Arlington County Board. (Tramblian, Ara) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER
12

Notice of Hearing Date re 10 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, 11 Memorandum in Support (Tramblian, Ara) (Entered: 02/05/2015)

Feb. 5, 2015 PACER

Set Motion and R&R Deadlines/Hearings

Feb. 6, 2015 PACER

Set Motion and R&R Deadlines/Hearings

Feb. 9, 2015 PACER
13

Motion to appear Pro Hac Vice by Larry Tanenbaum and Certification of Local Counsel Jonathan Goodrich Filing fee $ 75, receipt number 0422-4315852. by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015 PACER
14

Motion to appear Pro Hac Vice by Debra Patkin and Certification of Local Counsel Jonathan Goodrich Filing fee $ 75, receipt number 0422-4315854. by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015 PACER
15

Motion to appear Pro Hac Vice by Caroline Jackson and Certification of Local Counsel Jonathan Goodrich Filing fee $ 75, receipt number 0422-4315855. by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015 PACER
16

Motion to appear Pro Hac Vice by Carolyn Perez and Certification of Local Counsel Jonathan Goodrich Filing fee $ 75, receipt number 0422-4315858. by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/12/2015)

Feb. 12, 2015 PACER
17

ORDER granting 15 Motion for Pro hac vice. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 02/18/15. (pmil, ) (Entered: 02/18/2015)

Feb. 18, 2015 PACER
18

ORDER granting 14 Motion for Pro hac vice. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 02/18/15. (pmil, ) (Entered: 02/18/2015)

Feb. 18, 2015 PACER
19

ORDER granting 13 Motion for Pro hac vice. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 02/05/15. (pmil, ) (Entered: 02/18/2015)

Feb. 18, 2015 PACER
20

ORDER granting 16 Motion for Pro hac vice. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 02/18/15. (pmil, ) (Entered: 02/18/2015)

Feb. 18, 2015 PACER
21

AMENDED COMPLAINT against All Defendants, filed by Abreham Zemedagegehu.(Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/19/2015)

Feb. 19, 2015 RECAP
22

RESPONSE in Opposition re 10 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, 6 MOTION to Dismiss filed by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 02/19/2015)

Feb. 19, 2015 PACER
23

AMENDED COMPLAINT Summons Issued for service by SPS as to Elizabeth F. Arthur, Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections. (Attachments: # 1 Cover Letter)(pmil, ) (Entered: 02/23/2015)

1 Cover Letter

View on PACER

Feb. 19, 2015 PACER
24

ORDER that Defts' 10 Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim is DENIED AS MOOT; The Clerk of Court is directed to terminate the following previously-named Defendants who are no longer named in the Amended Complaint:a. Arlington County Board; b. Arlington County Sheriffs Office; c. Arlington County Detention Facility; (3) The Clerk of Court is directed to add the following newly-named Defendants who are named for the first time in the Amended Complaint: a. Arlington County Sheriff Elizabeth F. Arthur, in her official capacity; b. Virginia Department of Corrections; c. Virginia Department of Corrections Director Harold W. Clarke, in his official capacity;d. Virginia Board of Corrections; e. Virginia Board of Corrections Chairman Carl R. Peed, in his official capacity; The Clerk of Court is directed to remove the hearing currently scheduled for March 12, 2015 from the Courts docket and shall forward copies of this Order to all counsel of record (see Order for details). Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 02/24/15. (pmil, ) (Entered: 02/24/2015)

Feb. 24, 2015 RECAP
25

AMENDED COMPLAINT SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Elizabeth F. Arthur; served on 2/23/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 03/03/2015)

Feb. 26, 2015 PACER

Case Assigned/Reassigned

March 1, 2015 PACER
26

AMENDED COMPLAINT SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Harold W. Clarke; served on 2/23/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 03/12/2015)

March 12, 2015 PACER
27

AMENDED COMPLAINT SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Carl R. Peed; served on 2/23/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 03/12/2015)

March 12, 2015 PACER
28

AMENDED COMPLAINT SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Virginia Department of Corrections; served on 2/23/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 03/12/2015)

March 12, 2015 PACER
29

AMENDED COMPLAINT SUMMONS Returned Executed as to Virginia Board of Corrections; served on 2/23/2015 (pmil, ) (Entered: 03/12/2015)

March 12, 2015 PACER
30

MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Pl's First Amended Complaint) by Elizabeth F. Arthur. (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
31

Memorandum in Support re 30 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Pl's First Amended Complaint) filed by Elizabeth F. Arthur. (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
32

Notice of Hearing Date set for April 16, 2015; 10:00 am re 30 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Pl's First Amended Complaint) (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
33

ANSWER to Complaint (First Amended Complaint) by Elizabeth F. Arthur.(Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
34

NOTICE of Appearance by John Michael Parsons on behalf of Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections (Parsons, John) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
35

NOTICE of Appearance by Nancy Hull Davidson on behalf of Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections (Davidson, Nancy) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
36

MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim by Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections. (Davidson, Nancy) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 PACER
37

Memorandum in Support re 36 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections. (Davidson, Nancy) (Entered: 03/16/2015)

March 16, 2015 RECAP

Set Motion and R&R Deadlines/Hearings

March 17, 2015 PACER
38

Notice of Hearing Date set for April 16, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. re 36 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Davidson, Nancy) (Entered: 03/17/2015)

March 17, 2015 PACER

Set Motion and R&R Deadlines/Hearings

March 18, 2015 PACER
39

RESPONSE in Opposition re 30 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Pl's First Amended Complaint) filed by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 03/30/2015)

March 30, 2015 PACER
40

RESPONSE in Opposition re 36 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim filed by Abreham Zemedagegehu. (Goodrich, Jonathan) (Entered: 03/30/2015)

March 30, 2015 PACER

Set/Clear Flags

April 1, 2015 PACER
41

REPLY to Response to Motion re 30 MOTION to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (Pl's First Amended Complaint) filed by Elizabeth F. Arthur. (Francuzenko, Alexander) (Entered: 04/03/2015)

April 3, 2015 PACER

Docket Annotation

April 6, 2015 PACER
42

Reply to 40 Response in Opposition to Motion filed by Harold W. Clarke, Carl R. Peed, Virginia Board of Corrections, Virginia Department of Corrections. (Davidson, Nancy) (Entered: 04/06/2015)

April 6, 2015 PACER
43

Minute Entry for proceedings held before District Judge James C. Cacheris: Motion Hearing held on 4/16/2015 re: Defendant's motion's 30 & 36 to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Jonathan G. Goodrich, Caroline Jackson, and Larry Tanenbaum present on behalf of plaintiff. Plaintiff present at counsel table w/ the aid of 2 sign language interpreters. Alexander Francuzenko, John M. Parson, and Nancy H. Davidson present on behalf of defendant. Matters briefed, argued and taken under advisement. Order to follow. (Court Reporter Julie Egal)(mpha) (Entered: 04/16/2015)

April 16, 2015 PACER
44

MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by District Judge James C. Cacheris on 04/28/15. (pmil, )

April 28, 2015 RECAP
45

Order on Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim

April 28, 2015 PACER
47

Scheduling Order

1 Magistrate Consent Form

View on PACER

2 Pretrial Notice

View on PACER

May 5, 2015 PACER
46

Motion to Quash

1 Exhibit

View on PACER

May 6, 2015 PACER
48

Opposition

May 7, 2015 PACER
49

Order on Motion to Quash

May 7, 2015 PACER
50

Transcript

May 15, 2015 PACER
51

Discovery Plan

May 20, 2015 PACER
52

Pretrial Conference - Initial

May 27, 2015 PACER
53

Order Rule 16(b) Scheduling Order

June 1, 2015 PACER
54

Motion for Protective Order

1 Exhibit

View on PACER

June 29, 2015 PACER
55

Order on Motion for Protective Order

July 2, 2015 PACER
56

Motion to appear Pro hac vice

July 13, 2015 PACER
57

Order on Motion for Pro hac vice

July 15, 2015 PACER
58

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

July 27, 2015 PACER
59

Notice of Hearing Date

July 27, 2015 PACER
60

Order on Motion to Stay

July 28, 2015 PACER

Set Motion and R&R Deadlines/Hearings

July 28, 2015 PACER
61

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

Oct. 27, 2015 PACER
62

Order on Motion to Stay

Oct. 29, 2015 PACER
63

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

Jan. 28, 2016 PACER
64

Order on Motion to Stay

Feb. 4, 2016 PACER
65

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

April 28, 2016 PACER
66

Order on Motion to Stay

May 4, 2016 PACER
67

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

June 16, 2016 PACER
68

Order on Motion to Stay

June 21, 2016 PACER
69

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

Aug. 25, 2016 PACER
70

Order on Motion to Stay

Aug. 30, 2016 PACER
71

Motion to Stay

1 Proposed Order

View on PACER

Oct. 31, 2016 PACER
72

Order on Motion to Stay

Nov. 3, 2016 PACER
73

Notice of Voluntary Dismissal

Dec. 16, 2016 PACER
74

So Ordered

Dec. 20, 2016 PACER

State / Territory: Virginia

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Disability Rights/Public Accommodations

Special Collection(s):

Deaf or Blind in Jail/Prison

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 15, 2015

Closing Date: 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

The plaintiff is a deaf, Ethiopian-born American citizen. In addition, the United States was involved in support of the plaintiff.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Arlington County (Arlington), County

Defendant Type(s):

Law-enforcement

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: $250,000

Order Duration: 2015 - 2017

Content of Injunction:

Hire

Reasonable Accommodation

Discrimination Prohibition

Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols

Training

Issues

General:

Communication skills

Conditions of confinement

Language access/needs

Placement in detention facilities

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

Hearing impairment

Language:

Other

Type of Facility:

Government-run