Jury Trials: Four for Four This Year!

Firm attorney Dennis Phayer obtained a zero defense verdict last Friday in a disability discrimination suit filed by a deaf individual on probation. Critically, the rejection of all damages also precluded any award for attorney's fees. The plaintiff filed suit in Federal Court against the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (our client) as well as the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, alleging that probation officers violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to provide certified sign language interpreters for probation meetings. The plaintiff alleged that because the conditions of probation were not properly explained to him in sign language, he inadvertently violated probation, resulting in a 90-day jail sentence and extreme emotional distress.

Plaintiff was well represented by New York City-based disability rights attorneys who specialize in advocating for deaf individuals. At the five-day jury trial, Dennis convinced the jury that the plaintiff did in fact understand the conditions of probation, that plaintiff's probation violation was not inadvertent, and that the probation officers had worked diligently to assist plaintiff in understanding and complying with the terms of his probation.

Further, we demonstrated that despite plaintiff's evidence to the contrary, he did not suffer from emotional distress. Prior to trial, the court granted our motion to dismiss the claims of the plaintiff's father, who claimed that he was forced to interpret for his son. The court agreed with our argument that he failed to state a claim under the ADA.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Happy Holidays!

Bruce D. Burglass, Jr.