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Lawsuit Leads to Changes for Hearing Impaired Inmates in Ramsey County 

By: Naomi Pescovitz
Updated: 12/21/2011 6:40 PM KSTP.com

Major changes are in the works for the hearing impaired at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center.

Ramsey County has settled in a lawsuit with deaf advocate Doug Bahl who was pulled over for running a red light in 2006.

Miscommunications that night led to a physical altercation with St. Paul Police and Bahl was arrested. He spent three nights in jail without a sign language interpreter or the ability to contact anyone.

Bahl sued both the City of St. Paul and Ramsey County.

"We're looking at what we did, what can be done, and how can we accomplish it," said Randy Gustafson spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office.

As a part of the settlement, Ramsey County will pay Bahl, his wife and their attorneys $230 thousand. Ramsey County will now have a designated Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator at the jail. The county will also add hearing technology such as videophones and amplifiers.

"My hope is that other counties here and around the world will look to these changes as an example," Bahl said.

Bahl and his wife are still suing the City for what happened during the 2006 traffic stop. Bahl says he was pepper sprayed and beaten. At this point, the city is denying those claims. That case was initially dismissed and will now
go before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.   

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