Brain Surgery Survivor Sues to Obtain Access to LSAT
Disability law and testing guru Jo Anne Simon passes along this press release, issued yesterday:
Long Island resident Lisa Rousso woke up one morning in January 2005 feeling like her world had suddenly shifted on its axis. She was diagnosed with a brain lesion and underwent major surgery for its removal a month later, leaving her with a permanent disability. After years of rehabilitation to learn compensatory techniques, she was diagnosed with a disorder called Cognitive Disorder-NOS, which causes slow reading and writing and extraordinary fatigue.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prospective students with disabilities are entitled to testing modifications that best ensure that the test results assess their abilities, not their disabilities. When she applied for accommodations for the December 3, 2011 LSAT -- and satisfied the organization’s requirements for documenting a cognitive disability -- instead of extended time and extra breaks, she got the runaround. “First they told me the file never arrived, so I re-sent it – twice – but I was only told my application was deficient. But they never told me how,” said a frustrated Rousso.
Rousso finally hired attorney Jo Anne Simon to submit her application yet again in hopes that the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) would respond and confirm receipt of her documents. But after 10 days, and too late to submit new information for the December exam, Simon received a letter saying that Rousso’s neuropsychological evaluation was no good. The LSAC asserted that her condition was likely to improve. However, it never stated why it believed a permanent condition would improve.
Today, Rousso filed suit in the federal district court in Brooklyn, NY alleging the LSAC violated her rights under ADA. The LSAC is no stranger to lawsuits of this type. “The LSAC can’t continue to send cryptically worded messages to applicants with disabilities expecting that they will be either clairvoyant or cured,” said Simon who regularly represents people with disabilities in similar circumstances. “Nothing in Ms. Rousso’s evaluation suggested her condition would improve so as to take her out of the protections of the law.” Simon noted that while the ADA was recently amended to ensure the law’s original intent to protect a broad class of individuals, she notes that even under the more restrictive Supreme Court rulings rejected by Congress in 2008, Rousso would have been protected.