Akin Gump Files ADA Suit for Deaf Man Jailed for Six Weeks Without Interpreter

An Akin Gump pro bono team led by litigation partner Larry Tanenbaum has filed suit in federal court on behalf of Abreham Zemedagegehu, an Ethiopian-born U.S. citizen who was accused of having stolen an iPad—which its owner later found—and incarcerated for six weeks with no interpreter or other accommodation for his inability to communicate with his jailers.

Zemedagegehu, who is homeless, sued the Arlington County, Virginia, sheriff in federal court for treatment that he says failed to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tanenbaum was quoted regarding the jail’s failure to meet these standards in an Associated Press report: “To me, it's a matter of human kindness. You see a person in your care who's lost. How do you not help him?”

Akin Gump is working with the National Association of the Deaf on this case. The firm team includes Tanenbaum and litigation counsel Jon Goodrich and associate Carolyn Perez.