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December 31, 2013

Federal judge dismisses suit against county

Garland sought $10 million for alleged fall

LONDON —   A federal lawsuit against McCreary County Fiscal Court has been dismissed.

    John Roscoe Garland filed the civil suit in November 2012 against McCreary County Fiscal Court, unknown employees, and the Kentucky Association of Counties (which insures the county).

    Garland, who has been on Kentucky’s death row since 1999, alleged the defendants were liable for a fall he suffered following a May 2011 court hearing.

    Claiming problems with “heaing, vision, breathing and mobility,” Garland alleged that he was required to negotiate the stairs to enter and leave the second-floor courtroom and that the defendants failed “to train employees in the proper handling of disabled persons.”

    The plaintiff, who was representing himself,  sought $10 million “for pain and suffering, permanent injury, future impairment, loss of enjoyment of his major daily life and activities, and unspecified punitive damages.”

    In documents filed December 16, U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves ruled that claims against the “Unknown Defendant Employees” were dismissed because the American Disabilities Act (ADA) does not allow for public employees to be sued in an individual capacity.

    Judge Reeves further ruled that Garland failed to show that he was discriminated against by the remaining defendants since he did attend the hearing without incident.

    “Because Garland is an inmate, courthouse personnel had legitimate security and safety reasons to deny his request to use the elevator,” Reeves wrote. “And Garland has not alleged that he was denied access to the elevator or courtroom because of his disability…”

    Judge Reeves also declined to rule on Garland’s state law claims since the alleged federal violations were being dismissed.

    McCreary County Judge-Executive Doug Stephens was pleased with the ruling.

    “The courthouse is ADA compliant,” Judge Stephens said. “We do everything we can to keep the facility up to date and functional.”

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