The Washington Post and AP Quote Jonathan Goodrich on Pro Bono Suit on Behalf of Deaf Inmate at Virginia Jail

Akin Gump litigation counsel Jonathan Goodrich was quoted in The Washington Post’s “This deaf immigrant was ignored in jail. Now he will get $250,000,” as well as in an article by The Associated Press, about a deaf Ethiopian immigrant whom Akin Gump represented on a pro bono basis after he was wrongfully accused of theft and then held for weeks in an Arlington County, Va., detention center without access to sign language interpreters.

Abreham Zemedagegehu – a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Ethiopia and communicates in American Sign Language, but is not proficient in English – was arrested in 2014 and spent six weeks in jail on charges he stole an iPad from another man who later recanted his accusation. Zemedagegehu sued the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, arguing that the jail should have provided appropriate accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. A settlement was announced by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, which also investigated the case, that will require the sheriff’s office to overhaul its treatment of deaf inmates.

Goodrich told both the Post and AP that Zemedagegehu is “thrilled with the result.” He added, “Abreham continues to keep this ordeal in his rearview mirror, and wishes not to dwell on the trauma that he endured.”

For more on the suit, which was filed last year, please click here.