Terrill v. State of Oregon
On April 20, 2021, Disability Rights Advocates and Lynn S. Walsh filed a class action lawsuit against the State of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) on behalf of current and former people with disabilities who are incarcerated and who have been charged for the costs of the prostheses and other equipment they need to accommodate their disabilities.
The case challenges ODOC’s discriminatory administrative rules and practices requiring people with disabilities to pay for durable medical equipment and/or healthcare appliances that they need in order to access the programs and services of the prisons, including orthoses, prostheses, hearing aids and batteries, dentures, and artificial limbs and eyes. The lawsuit also challenges ODOC’s policy and practice of denying some accommodations outright if the person with a disabilities lacks sufficient funds to pay for the device.
Plaintiff Donald Terrill has a lower leg amputation and received a prosthesis from ODOC in May 2013. ODOC garnishes Mr. Terrill’s trust account each month to pay for the prosthesis, and so far Mr. Terrill has paid $10,675 towards the cost but still, according to ODOC policy, owes ODOC $14,415 more. Mr. Terrill makes approximately $45 per month at his job, of which $19.125 goes to reimburse ODOC for the cost of his prosthetic. Many people with disabilities incarcerated at ODOC have been paying monthly charges, often for years, for durable medical equipment that should have been provided at the expense of ODOC.
These charges are only for people with disabilities who require these devices long-term—ODOC does not charge such costs to non-disabled people who require limited-duration aids, such as canes, crutches, or braces. The imposition of these costs represents unlawful surcharges on people with disabilities and fails to reasonably accommodate them in ODOC facilities and programs in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The plaintiff and class members seek a declaration that this practice is illegal and an injunction to cease the practice of charging people with disabilities for any durable medical equipment and/or healthcare appliance, as well as reimbursement for amounts wrongfully taken from their inmate trust accounts as garnishment for their disability-related accommodations.