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4 deaf people sue over emergency-alert confusion

Four deaf people are suing Dakota County for emotional injuries after they were not provided with interpreters during an emergency situation in September 2004. Neighborhood children found jars of mercury in an old glass factory and began playing with them. In the Rosemount Woods mobile home park, more than a dozen homes had unsafe mercury levels and residents had to be decontaminated in on-site showers. The deaf residents struggled to understand what was going on, one of them was even laughed at.

The lead, "Four deaf individuals have filed a federal lawsuit against Dakota County alleging that emergency responders violated their civil rights by failing to provide American Sign Language interpreters for them when their Rosemount neighborhood was contaminated by mercury in September 2004," is too long. The lead is understandable, but too long. It has critical information from beginning to end, but could be broken into a two-sentence lead for ease.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press provides a much shorter story. The Pioneer Press story mentions that interpreters were allegedly not present at follow-up meetings about health either.

The Star Tribune does a very good job outlining this important issue. I think that the direct quote about having been laughed at is a very good storytelling element to increase empathy.