A man can proceed with his claim against prison officials who confiscated his medically necessary orthopedic shoes, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held Aug. 2 that Leon Douglas, a Michigan prisoner, can proceed with his claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
A reasonable jury could find that the officials failed to accommodate Leon Douglas’ disability in violation of both statutes, the court said in an unpublished opinion.
Douglas, who has been incarcerated for about 50 years, wears medically necessary orthopedic shoes to manage pain from a lifelong foot condition, according to court records. His accommodation was listed as “permanent” in his 2003 Special Accommodation Notice, and he also has had annual screenings to affirm his treatment.
Douglas’ shoes were confiscated for 45 days in 2012 based on a change in prison policy that he was not made aware existed. Not having his shoes curtailed his visits and prevented him from walking to the chow hall, religious services, and recreational activities, according to the suit.
The court’s decision goes contrary to other circuit courts that have held that a “discriminatory intent” finding is required, rather than deliberate indifference, for compensatory damages.
Because he “can show he was denied access to prison services when his reasonable accommodation was denied, he has established facts sufficient to proceed with his lawsuit,” the court said.