Ex-Inmate Asks Idaho Department of Corrections for Legal Fees Over Gender Surgery Dispute
An ex-Idaho inmate is asking the state to cover $2.8 million in legal fees and costs from an earlier lawsuit over her disputed gender confirmation surgery, the Associated Press reported. Adree Edmo successfully sued the state and Corizon Health Inc., the Department of Correction’s health care provider, in 2017 when they refused to provide her with the operation.
Edmo’s lawsuit alleged that the state and Corizon Health Inc. violated her Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment by refusing to schedule the surgery. She won the case in federal district and appellate courts, and her surgery was scheduled for the summer of 2020, the AP reported.
A request from Idaho attorneys to postpone the operation while the legal process continued was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“In July 2020, 19 months after this Court ordered Defendants to provide Ms. Edmo surgery—and after another round of motions necessitated by Defendants’ failure to take necessary COVID-19 precautions to ensure surgery could move forward—Ms. Edmo finally received the treatment ordered,” wrote Amy Whelan, one of Edmo’s attorneys.
Idaho has until November 22 to file a response to Edmo’s motion, according to the AP.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
Governor Brad Little’s office declined to comment on the case because it is still moving forward in court.
Prison doctors had diagnosed Edmo in 2012 with gender dysphoria, a condition in which the dissonance between a person’s gender identity and the gender they were assigned at birth is significant and hurtful. But medical professionals disagreed about whether Edmo needed gender confirmation surgery, leading to the lawsuit.
Edmo’s legal fight didn’t end after her surgery, however, Whelan noted, it continued until October 2020, when the Supreme Court said it would allow the appellate court ruling to stand without review.
“Because this case involved the first transgender incarcerated person in the country to receive court-ordered surgery—a precedent that, while unique to the facts of Ms. Edmo’s case, was significant in the fields of constitutional rights and prisoner litigation—it was essential to protect the lower court rulings,” said Whelan, who is with the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
Courts generally award attorney fees to the winning party based on the “customary amount” an attorney would charge for the work. But in certain cases—such as when the case is considered “undesirable,” or especially complex, or when the attorneys have extensive experience or performed exceptionally well—the court will allow the customary amount of fees to be doubled. Edmo is asking for double the customary amounts in her case.
“Here, nothing about this case was run-of-the-mill,” Whelan said. Edmo had no attorney when she started the case, and no Idaho attorneys were willing to take on the case on their own.
In fact, the court had to ask local lawyers to represent Edmo, and then they only agreed because they had the help of outside attorneys with extensive experience in transgender civil rights cases and prison litigation. Besides dealing with the legal matters, the attorneys had to spend time “contending with the Governor’s politicization of Ms. Edmo’s case and intense public backlash,” Whelan said.
Published at Wed, 10 Nov 2021 22:39:12 +0000