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California: Failure to Accommodate Hearing-Impaired Parolee Leads To $100,000 Settlement

In November 2009, Joseph Genova, a hearing-impaired ex-prisoner, signed a Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims, accepting $10,000 from the State of California, $68,000 from Walden House, Inc., and $22,000 from Behavioral Systems Southwest, Inc. (BSS) in exchange for dismissal of the federal lawsuit he had filed one year earlier, alleging that, while on parole in 2007 and 2008, he had been the victim of ongoing, illegal practices that discriminate against individuals with disabilities.

Specifically, Genova alleged that he was referred, by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, for residential and outpatient treatment at Walden House in 2007 and at BSS in 2008, to address substance abuse problems he then had; according to the complaint, however, neither Walden House nor BSS provided a certified sign language interpreter (even after being requested to do so) that would have allowed Genova to participate -- equally, meaningfully, and effectively -- in their programs and services (including, importantly, counseling). He further alleged that Walden House threatened to remove him from their program if he continued to complain about their failure to provide him with an interpreter, and that the State did not respond to his request for reasonable accommodation at BSS.

Genova's complaint alleged causes of action for violations of Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the California Disabled Persons Act (California Civil Code sections 54 and 54.1), and the Unruh Civil Rights Act (California Civil Code section 51). He sought general, special, and exemplary damages, as well as injunctive relief.

Genova was represented by attorney David Geffen of Santa Monica. See: Genova v. California, First Amended Complaint, U.S. District Court (C.D. Cal.), Case No. CV 08-8570 ODW (AJWx); Settlement Agreement and Release of All Claims, Nov. 2009.

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Related legal case

Genova v. California