Adele P. Kimmel
Director, Students’ Civil Rights Project & Senior Attorney
Adele P. Kimmel, Director of Public Justice’s Students’ Civil Rights Project and Senior Attorney, is based in the DC Headquarters of Public Justice. Since joining the law firm in 1994, Adele has worked on wide range of civil rights cases, representing prisoners and immigrant detainees who were beaten, sexually assaulted, denied adequate medical care, and killed; women intercollegiate athletes seeking to reinstate their wrongfully eliminated teams; coaches of female interscholastic and intercollegiate sports who were fired in retaliation for voicing concerns about gender inequities in their schools’ athletic programs; students who were denied athletic scholarships based on their race; women who hit the “glass ceiling” in their workplace; employees who were denied promotions based on their race; student survivors of campus sexual assault whose schools denied them equal access to educational opportunities; and students whose schools failed to protect them from bullying by their peers.
Adele is a widely quoted authority on school bullying and Title IX issues. She is the head of Public Justice’s Anti-Bullying Campaign, which seeks to hold school districts and officials accountable for failing to protect students from bullying, make systemic changes in the ways that schools respond to bullying incidents, and educate others about bullying and the law.
Highlights from Adele’s successful litigation include:
• Representation of five Jewish students who suffered virulent anti-Semitic harassment in New York’s Pine Bush Central School District. The lawsuit, covered on the front page of the New York Times, alleged that the school district’s failure to respond appropriately to the students’ bullying complaints violated their constitutional and civil rights to be free from racial, ethnic, and religious harassment. After over three years of litigation, the school district agreed to pay $4.48 million to the students and make sweeping reforms to its policies, curriculum, and training. The settlement serves as a blueprint for what school districts across the country should do to prevent and address bullying.
• Representation of an Ohio high school student who suffered gender-based and anti-Semitic harassment by her peers, including death threats. The lawsuit alleged that the school district’s failure to address her complaints violated her constitutional and civil rights to be free from religious and sex discrimination. The school district agreed to pay her $500,000, revise its anti-bullying policies, and receive anti-bullying training from the U.S. Department of Education.
• Representation of the family of an immigrant detainee who died of penile cancer as a result of egregious medical neglect while he was in California and federal custody. After more than seven years of litigation in federal and state courts, the family received settlements totaling $3.2 million from the federal and state governments. The federal case, Castaneda v. United States, served as a catalyst for reforming the medical care provided to immigrant detainees and was featured in a joint investigative piece done by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes.
• Representation of two former coaches for women’s intercollegiate athletic teams at Florida Gulf Coast University who suffered retaliation after voicing concerns about gender inequities in the university’s athletic programs. Before discovery began, the university agreed to pay the coaches $3.4 million and hire an independent expert to assess and monitor its compliance with Title IX.
• Representation of a pretrial detainee beaten by prison guards and denied access to file a grievance. His federal civil rights lawsuit, Dillon v. Rogers, was dismissed for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. Adele successfully argued on appeal that the suit should be reinstated, resulting in an important decision on the procedures courts should follow when determining the availability of administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act.
Adele is the 2016 recipient of the Sandra H. Robinson Women’s Caucus Award, given to “trailblazing women attorneys” by the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. She is a former Chair of the American Association for Justice’s Civil Rights Section and a longtime member of the Section’s Executive Board.
Adele received her B.A. degree with high honors from the University of Virginia in 1982, where she was an Echols Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, and a participant in the Philosophy Honors Program. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1985 and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1986, as part of a joint degree program. She is admitted to practice in California and the District of Columbia.
Prior to joining Public Justice, Adele was a principal in a mid-sized, private law firm in Washington, DC, where she represented plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases and litigated a wide variety of civil and commercial cases.