Case: Simmons v. Montana Women's Prison

HRB CASE NO. 0131016277 | No Court

Filed Date: Aug. 20, 2018

Closed Date: Oct. 24, 2019

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In August 2018, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Montana Women’s Prison, alleged that the Prison discriminated against her based on her religion, gender, and disability. Her religious discrimination claims were based on allegations that the Prison denied her a Jehovah’s Witness bible and allowed other religious groups to use the prison chapel for worship services but denied the Jehovah’s Witness’s request. She also alleged that the Montana State Prison provided male prisoners more opportunities…

In August 2018, the plaintiff, a prisoner at the Montana Women’s Prison, alleged that the Prison discriminated against her based on her religion, gender, and disability. Her religious discrimination claims were based on allegations that the Prison denied her a Jehovah’s Witness bible and allowed other religious groups to use the prison chapel for worship services but denied the Jehovah’s Witness’s request. She also alleged that the Montana State Prison provided male prisoners more opportunities to learn trade skills than female prisoners. Finally, the plaintiff alleged that she suffered from a condition that caused her to fall easily. She requested a handicap-accessible shower and alleged that the denial constituted a failure to provide a reasonable accommodation.

In February 2019, the Montana Human Rights Bureau reported finding insufficient evidence to sustain the first two claims and the disability claim, but found reasonable cause to believe that access to the prison chapel was granted in a discriminatory manner.

The parties settled in October 2019. The Montana Women’s Prison agreed to pay the plaintiff $1,000 and pay $4,400 in attorneys’ fees. The settlement also stipulated that a warden must undergo training on religious rights and the prison must determine if there were any other instances of discrimination in the past year and, if so, propose a solution. Montana Women’s Prison agreed to allow prisoners to attend religious services even if they are prohibited from other activities like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or yoga. Finally, the Prison agreed to purchase a typewriter for the plaintiff to use in her cell.

Summary Authors

Justin Hill (3/8/2020)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Holm, Eric E. (Montana)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Eakin, Ira (Montana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Holm, Eric E. (Montana)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Eakin, Ira (Montana)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Charge of Discrimination

Aug. 20, 2018 Complaint

Conciliation Agreement

Oct. 24, 2019 Other

Docket

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

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Montana

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 20, 2018

Closing Date: Oct. 24, 2019

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiff was a prisoner in the Montana Women's Prison.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Montana Women's Prison (Billings, Yellowstone), State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Amount Defendant Pays: 5400

Order Duration: 2019 - None

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Provide antidiscrimination training

Training

Issues

General:

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Religion discrimination

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Female

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Type of Facility:

Government-run