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Deaf California Man Awarded $100,000 for False Arrest/Detention

A deaf California man who was detained for 22 hours because of his inability to understand and communicate with police officers was awarded $100,000.

In January 1988, a deaf cabinetmaker, Mr. Jeno Koth, entered a Wells Fargo Bank to cash his paycheck. He was wrongfully identified as a person who robbed the bank the prior week. Pasadena Police officers arrested Koth and detained him for 22 hours because of his inability to communicate with police following his arrest. He was not provided with a deaf interpreter.

Koth sued in state court, alleging that he was discriminated against because of his disability. He argued that the City of Pasadena should have devised and implemented a policy to deal with deaf people who are arrested. He also argued that he should have been provided a deaf interpreter, which would have quickly resolved the misidentification. Defendants argued that they had probable cause to arrest based upon a single person identification by a bank employee.

The bank settled prior to trial, paying Koth a confidential amount. Koth rejected the City’s $7,500 settlement offer and proceeded to trial. On April 30, 1992, a jury found for Koth and awarded him $100,000. Koth was represented by John C. Taylor of Santa Monica, California. See: Koth v. City of Pasadena, Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. C-698-065.

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Related legal case

Koth v. City of Pasadena