Deaf Oregon man awarded $125,000 for ADA violations in jail

[Transcript] The Oregonian reported last week that a federal jury awarded a 52-year-old deaf man from Oregon, David Updike, $125,000 after they found that Multnomah County violated his ADA rights when he was not provided an interpreter when he was arrested and jailed for two nights

The trial lasted for three days, but it took an eight-member jury only an hour to decide the outcome.

The arrest was in January 2013. Police in Gresham went to Updike’s home on a disturbance call that involved him and another deaf person. Officers communicated using pen and paper with both persons, then arrested Updike for fourth-degree assault and harassment.

Updike said he was jailed for two nights and did not have any interpreters, access to video relay phones, or text telephones. His first court arraignment did not have an interpreter, which forced him to spend a second night in jail. All of the charges were eventually dropped.

Multnomah County argued that Updike could read and write and that it was not obvious that he needed an interpreter. They said they did not discriminate against Updike and allowed him to make two calls during his jail stay with a special telecommunications device.

Updike’s attorney, Daniel Snyder, called an ASL linguistic expert from Maine, Dr. Judy Shepard-Kegl, to provide testimony via video. She said Updike reads at the third-grade level and that his first language is ASL.

A juror said it was a quick decision that the county was liable for ADA violations and that they learned through the trial that English is not the first language for deaf people and that it is important to provide an interpreter.

The link to the Oregonian article is in the transcript.


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