Postawko v. Missouri Department of Corrections

State: Missouri

Filed: 2018

Court: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Overview: The brief supported a class of Missouri prisoners seeking life-saving medical treatment while in prison and alleging that the state’s Department of Corrections refused to treat thousands of inmates with Hepatitis C in defiance of medical standards and in violation of the ADA. The brief argued for the importance of class action lawsuits as a tool for civil rights enforcement.

Excerpt: “An unlawful policy or practice will always cause differing degrees of actual injury to individual class members, depending on their vulnerabilities, and some may be lucky enough to escape harm altogether. One foster child will be placed in a family rife with abuse and another with loving foster parents; one person will have disabilities that necessitate 24-hour support while another is able to live independently; one immigrant in detention will suffer lasting health consequences without regular medication and monitoring while her cellmate will stay healthy. If such variations were sufficient to defeat class certification, system-wide relief from illegal policies and practices would almost always be out of reach, and shifting populations in the custody of the government would have lost a vital tool for vindicating their rights.”

Case Documents

Amicus Brief: Postawko v. Missouri Department of Corrections

Eighth Circuit Opinion

Ortiz v. United States

State: Missouri

Filed: 2010

Court: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

Overview: The briefs before the Eighth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, argued that the Courts must consider the consensus of the scientific community that only Mr. Ortiz’s adaptive deficits and not his adaptive strengths are relevant to an intellectual disability determination. The Arc also submitted a clemency letter to President Barack Obama requesting the commutation of Mr. Ortiz’s sentence.

Excerpt: “Like everyone else, individuals with intellectual disability differ substantially from one another. For each person with intellectual disability there will be things he or she cannot do but also many things he or she can do. Because the mixture of skill strengths and skill deficits varies widely among persons with intellectual disability, there is no clinically accepted list of common, ordinary strengths or abilities that preclude a diagnosis of intellectual disability. Thus, in assessing an individual’s adaptive behavior—the aspect of intellectual disability at issue in this case—the focus must be on deficits. Adaptive strengths are irrelevant to this analysis…Broad acceptance of the district court’s mistaken reasoning would deprive individuals with intellectual disability of the protections and supports to which they are entitled under state and federal law and the U.S. Constitution.”

Case Documents

Eighth Circuit Brief

U.S. Supreme Court Brief

Clemency Letter

Related Media

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