Robins Kaplan LLP Secures Necessary Health Care for Incarcerated Transgender Woman in Pro Bono Victory

The firm helped secure a significant pro bono victory after a federal district court struck down a Missouri Department of Correction policy as cruel and unusual punishment.

May 25, 2018

Minneapolis, MN—May 25, 2018—National trial firm Robins Kaplan LLP® helped secure a significant pro bono victory this week after a federal district court struck down a Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) policy as cruel and unusual punishment because it denies vital health care to transgender people.

Working closely with Lambda Legal, Robins Kaplan represented Jessica Hicklin, a transgender woman incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center, who was allegedly denied necessary health care for the treatment of her gender dysphoria. In February 2018, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction that ordered MDOC to give Ms. Hicklin access to doctor-recommended health care. With this week’s permanent injunction, the court found that MDOC and its contracted healthcare provider, Corizon LLC, must provide Ms. Hicklin with the medically necessary, doctor-recommended treatment.

With this order, the court also bars MDOC and Corizon from enforcing Missouri’s “freeze-frame” policy—a blanket ban on providing hormone treatment to any transgender person who was not receiving such treatment prior to incarceration. While a number of federal courts have addressed issues related to providing necessary medical care to transgender inmates, this ruling is believed to be the first to find that freeze-frame policies are unconstitutional.

“This verdict will not only alleviate the pain and anguish that Ms. Hicklin has suffered, but it will also prevent countless other transgender inmates within Missouri from facing a similar situation, and provide them with the medical treatment they may need,” said Marla Butler, partner at Robins Kaplan who represented Ms. Hicklin. “It is our hope that this week’s court ruling will set forth a wave of change for incarcerated transgender individuals, and that other courts will use this decision as a basis for determining that freeze-frame policies are unconstitutional nationwide.”

Demoya Gordon and Richard Saenz of Lambda Legal, Kevin L. Schriener of Law & Schriener LLC, and Robins Kaplan partner Sharon Roberg-Perez. associate Rajin Olson, and former associate Frederick Braunstein also represented Ms. Hicklin.

The case, Hicklin v. Precythe, was heard before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

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