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Utah Jail Settles ADA Suit

On May 6, 1999, Salt Lake County, Utah, settled a lawsuit by paying $2,000 in damages, $4,000 in attorney fees and agreeing to modify its jail for the handicapped. Robert Earls, a former jail detainee, is missing a leg and must use a prosthesis. The prosthetic leg must be removed when Earls showers.

The Salt Lake County jail did not have any shower stalls or facilities for the disabled when Earls was in custody. In order to shower, Earls was forced to remove his prosthetic leg in a housing area and then hop to the shower area and stand on one foot in a wet, slippery shower stall in order to shower. Earls fell several times while showering and going to and from the shower. Earls filed suit claiming that the lack of hand rails and other safety features violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

To settle the suit, Salt Lake County paid Earls $2,000 in damages; $4,000 in attorney fees and agreed to provide a modified shower for disabled prisoners. The county is building is a new jail which it claims will be in full ADA compliance when it is completed. Earls was represented by Brian Barnard and James Harris of the Utah Legal Clinic, who also represent PLN in censorship litigation in Utah. See: Earls v. Salt Lake County, USDC D UT, Case No. 2-98-CV-521J.

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Related legal case

Earls v. Salt Lake County