Deaf Springfield man drops city from lawsuit

A Springfield deaf man who filed a federal lawsuit against Clark County and the city of Springfield dropped the city from his suit.

Derrick Lake who can’t read lips or read proficiently and uses American Sign Language to communicate, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, was arrested Feb. 15 and wasn’t offered an interpreter to explain why.

Lake’s attorney, Sean Sobel, filed a notice to the court late last month alerting it that the case against Springfield and the Clark County Municipal Court was being dismissed. The municipal court is managed by the city of Springfield.

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However, his case against the Clark County Sheriff’s Office and the Clark County Commissioners is expected to move forward, attorney Sean Sobel said.

“We’re just narrowing the parties and the issues,” Sobel said. “That lawsuit is still continuing on with Clark County and sheriff’s office.”

The lawsuit contends that the Clark County Municipal Court and the City of Springfield didn’t properly send notices to Lake’s correct address to inform him that he was required to appear in court for missing earlier appearances.

Clark County spokesman Michael Cooper said the county wouldn’t comment on ongoing litigation. Clark County Sherriff Deb Burchett didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

The lawsuit against the sheriff’s office and county commissioners alleges deputies who arrested Lake earlier this year noticed he was deaf but didn’t act to get him a way of communicating. The deputies were arresting Lake on a warrant connected to a traffic violation, the lawsuit says.

Sobel said Lake’s wife called the jail to tell them they needed an ASL interpreter because writing notes would not work. The complaint said an unknown jail official responded that it would be “too much of a hurdle to get an interpreter.”

The complaint alleges Clark County officials failed to provide ASL interpreter services or other auxiliary aids or services necessary to communicate as dictated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

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Lake’s wife was told that jail officials said Lake “had agreed to proceed without an interpreter,” which the suit said was impossible.

Lake was placed in a holding cell all night where an officer could “keep an eye on” Lake because he was deaf, the suit said, and that Lake spent the night sleeping on a metal bench in the holding cell instead of a regular cell with a bed.

During his arraignment on Feb. 16, he was arraigned by Judge Thomas E. Trempe without an interpreter. Lake’s wife told the judge of Lake’s status but no interpreter was provided and Lake was released on his own recognizance, according to the lawsuit.

Lake seeks declaratory relief, compensatory damages, and attorney’s fees and costs.

No court date has been set in the case.

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