United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
DUSTIN A. KING, Plaintiff,
MARION CIRCUIT COURT, Defendant.
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Judge United States District Court
Court conducted a damages bench trial in this action on
August 23, 2016. Plaintiff Dustin A. King was present in
person and by Counsel Andrea Ciobanu and Alex Beeman.
Defendant Marion Circuit Court was present by Counsel Philip
Gordon and Betsy Isenberg.
King filed this cause of action against Marion Circuit Court
under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”) for failure to provide him with an
American Sign Language (“ASL”) interpreter during
his participation in the Modest Means Mediation Program.
[Filing No. 1.] On May 27, 2016, the Court issued an Order
granting Mr. King's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
and denying Marion Circuit Court's Cross-Motion for
Summary Judgment. [Filing No. 157.] Specifically, the Court
held that Marion Circuit Court had violated the ADA when it
failed to provide Mr. King with an interpreter or a
reasonable accommodation for the Modest Means Mediation
Program. [Filing No. 157 at 28.] On August 23, 2016, the
Court held a bench trial to determine the issue of damages.
Court now issues its findings of fact and conclusions of law.
of Fact 
King is deaf and his primary form of communication is through
ASL. In 2013, he was the respondent in a family law matter in
Marion Circuit Court regarding parenting time and child
support with respect to his daughter. Instead of pursuing the
family law matter through trial, Mr. King requested to
participate in the Modest Means Mediation Program. He wanted
to participate in mediation because he did not want his
daughter to go through trial, did not want to experience the
delays of a trial, and wanted his daughter to participate in
his upcoming wedding. Marion Circuit Court granted Mr.
King's request and ordered the parties to participate in
the Modest Means Mediation Program.
he is only able to communicate through an ASL interpreter,
Mr. King filed a request with Marion Circuit Court on June
21, 2013 to appoint an ASL interpreter for mediation, and
Marion Circuit Court denied that request on June 24, 2013.
Mr. King filed a motion to reconsider his request arguing
that the denial of an interpreter for mediation would be a
violation of the ADA, and Marion Circuit Court denied his
renewed request on July 3, 2013. Mr. King moved to certify
the issue of being denied an ASL interpreter for an
interlocutory appeal, and Marion Circuit Court also denied
that request on July 18, 2013. Mr. King and his step-father,
Roland Hodges, also visited the Office of the Governor and
the Marion County Clerk's Office in an attempt to seek
assistance in arranging for an ASL interpreter for the Modest
Means Mediation Program, but those entities would not provide
him with an interpreter.
being denied an interpreter, Mr. King continued with the
Modest Means Mediation Program, which took place on July 29,
2013, and lasted approximately three to four hours. Mr.
asked his step-father, Mr. Hodges, to be his ASL interpreter
during the mediation. Mr. Hodges has taken classes in ASL at
the Indiana School for the Deaf and has charged as much as
$60 per hour to interpret. He has previously interpreted in
different settings, such as for church and school related
functions, but he is not a certified court interpreter and
has never interpreted in court or for court-related services
prior to Mr. King's mediation. Mr. Hodges has also
interpreted for Mr. King throughout his life for school
meetings, sports, and in other similar settings. At the time
of the mediation, Mr. Hodges worked at Eli Lilly and Company
and had to use one vacation day to attend. He never charged
Mr. King for interpreting for him because Mr. King was
unemployed at the time, but he expressed to Mr. King that he
expected to be paid if Mr. King was ever compensated.
Hodges' wife, Nancy Hodges, and Mr. King's wife (then
fiancée), Kassandra King, were also present during the
mediation. Although Mr. Hodges was the primary interpreter,
Nancy Hodges and Kassandra King were there for emotional
support and to help Mr. Hodges interpret during the times
that he got emotionally involved and/or distracted.
Mr. King was ultimately satisfied with the outcome of the
mediation, he incurred $380 in attorneys' fees for the
process of requesting an interpreter from Marion Circuit
Court and suffered emotional distress as a result of being
denied an ASL interpreter. He felt awful, angry, upset, and
anxious from being denied an interpreter for the mediation
and from having to file subsequent motions with the court in
an effort to obtain an interpreter. Mr. Hodges observed that
Mr. King was stressed out during the mediation since it was
his first time participating in a legal proceeding and Mr.
King was worried about being able to fully understand what
was taking place. Mr. King and Mr. Hodges recounted many
challenges Mr. King has experienced throughout his life as a
result of being deaf. Mr. King was shocked, hurt, frustrated
and angry that he was being denied an interpreter by a court
- the entity he had believed would protect his rights and
provide an interpreter for the mediation. Mr. King's
distress was physically apparent. He cried. His facial
expressions reflected his worry. He exhibited nervous
behavior such as shaking, sweating, and picking his
fingernails. He has a sense of dread because the justice
system violated his rights. Mr. King believed that he could
not participate unless he had an interpreter, and further
believed that he was denied the same quality of opportunity
as someone who was not disabled. The denial of an interpreter
still bothers him. However, he did not seek care from any
doctor, medical provider, psychologist, therapist or any
other medical professional for his emotional distress.