Dorn v. Michigan Department of Corrections, et al.

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Status: Open
Court:
Western District of Michigan
Issues: Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct, HIV

On November 12, 2018, Lambda Legal and Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service announced the successful settlement of a 2015 lawsuit filed on behalf of John Dorn against the Michigan Department of Corrections. Mr. Dorn’s settlement with the MDOC includes substantive changes to the MDOC policy directive that allowed disproportionate punishment of incarcerated people living with HIV without adequate justification, an MDOC review and reconsideration of other individuals who were classified to administrative segregation under the former policy, and a monetary settlement.

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In 2015, Lambda Legal and Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Dorn for declaratory relief, injunctive relief and money damages.  The lawsuit was filed as a result of Mr. Dorn being disciplined far more severely than another prisoner based solely on his HIV status under a MDOC policy directive.  After Mr. Dorn and another man were accused of engaging in consensual sexual activity, Mr. Dorn was immediately taken from the lowest-level security facility to the highest and placed in solitary confinement for over 21 months, whereas the HIV-negative person was given only a 30-day loss of privileges.

The lawsuit was filed after Mr. Dorn was disciplined far more severely than another prisoner based solely on his HIV status, which was in violation of Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act. After Mr. Dorn and another man were accused of engaging in consensual sexual activity, Mr. Dorn was immediately taken from the lowest-level security facility to the highest and placed in solitary confinement where he remained for over 21 months, whereas the HIV-negative person was given only a 30-day loss of privileges.

After the Court granted in part Defendants’ motion to dismiss in June 2017, Lambda Legal and MPAS sought reconsideration of the decision in August of the same year.  In April 2018, the Court granted in part the motion for reconsideration and reinstated the Rehabilitation Act claim on which this settlement is based.