Reed v. State of Illinois, No. 14-1745 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff has a neurological disorder, tardive dyskinesia. Plaintiff’s involuntary movements include tongue thrusting, pursing of the lips, choking, and side-to-side chewing of the jaw. She becomes mute, screams or makes non-verbal sounds, particularly under stress. She also suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder, with severe anxiety. Shortly after plaintiff was diagnosed with TD, a personal injury suit that she had filed went to trial. She had no lawyer. Before trial, she sought accommodations of her medical problems, and was permitted to have a friend and a family member take notes, was given a podium, and was allowed to take occasional recesses. She was denied other requested help—a microphone, an interpreter, and a jury instruction explaining her disorder, lest the jurors think she was just acting up. She was hectored by the judge, who told the jury that the plaintiff has a “speech impediment.” She suffered other embarrassments in front of the jury, which returned a verdict for the defendant. Plaintiff unsuccessfully moved for a new trial on the ground that she was disabled within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act yet had been denied reasonable accommodations. The Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded, finding that plaintiff was denied a full and fair opportunity to vindicate her claims.