Disabled Minnesota Prisoner Settles Discrimination Lawsuit for $10,000, Other Relief
by Robert Warlick
Minnesota prisoner Michael Dahlin filed suit on November 22, 2012 against state prison officials, alleging discrimination due to his disabilities in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).
Dahlin suffered from disorders that included spinal stenosis, chronic back pain, degenerative disc disease, pelvic floor disease and depression, among other ailments. Under Minnesota law, a prisoner is required to work unless excused as a result of illness or physical disability; otherwise, he or she may be subject to disciplinary confinement.
Dahlin had been incarcerated at Oak Park Heights before his transfer to Rush City on December 22, 2011. His medical work restrictions expired on October 1, 2011 but he was unable to work any time afterwards due to his medical conditions. As punishment he was placed in a confinement cell for 22 hours a day for at least 90 days, on four or more occasions. Every attempt he made to attain a job that accommodated his disabilities or to be placed in a medical unit where he did not have to work was denied. The physical therapist at Rush City refused to recommend further work restrictions for him.
Following mediation, the Minnesota DOC agreed to provide training to its employees on the rights of offenders and obligations of correctional facilities with respect to disability discrimination and accommodations under the MHRA and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The state also agreed to pay $10,000 in attorney fees, plus an undisclosed sum to cover the cost of the mediation.
Additionally, prison officials withdrew disciplinary actions taken against Dahlin for not working and changed his status to “Authorized/Medical Idle.”
Dahlin was represented by attorney Justin M. Page with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and by the Minnesota Disability Law Center. See: Dahlin v. Minnesota DOC, Ramsey County District Court, Second Judicial District (MN), Case No. 62-CV-12-9021.
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Related legal case
Dahlin v. Minnesota DOC
|Cite||Ramsey County District Court, Second Judicial District (MN), Case No. 62-CV-12-9021|
|Level||State Trial Court|