Friday, June 29, 2012

Feds Join Suit Over Treatment of Florida's Disabled Kids

See this article by that title in the Miami Herald.  It begins:

Citing federal civil rights laws that forbid the segregation of disabled people in large institutions, the U.S. Justice Department has joined Florida children’s advocates who say the state is improperly forcing children with complex medical conditions into nursing homes designed to care for frail elders. 
The Justice Department Thursday night filed a pleading in federal court seeking to intervene in an ongoing dispute between Florida healthcare regulators and children’s advocates who say the state is warehousing sick children in nursing homes. The children, advocates say, have no ability to socialize with other kids, be stimulated mentally or receive speech and physical therapies that may improve their ability to function.

Read more here:

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Second Circuit Reverses Injunction in NYC Taxi Case

Yesterday, in Noel v. New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the district court's grant of an injunction.  The district court held that the City violated Title II of the ADA by failing to provide meaningful access to taxi services for persons with disabilities.  It issued an injunction ordering the City to come up with a remedial plan and, in the interim, to issue new taxi medallions only to accessible taxis.

The Second Circuit reversed the injunction. It concluded "that, though the [Taxi and Limousine Commission] exercises pervasive control over the taxi industry in New York City, defendants were not required by Title II(A) to deploy their licensing and regulatory authority to mandate that persons who need wheelchairs be afforded meaningful access to taxis. The district court therefore erred in entering the temporary injunction."

For coverage of the ruling, see this article from the Wall Street Journal, this article from the New York Times, this article from New York Magazine, and this article from the New York Daily News.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

SDNY Sues Lincoln Center for Inaccessibility

See this article in the Daily News.  It begins:
LINCOLN CENTER is being sued by the feds for failing to provide adequate disabled access. 
A lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal Court Wednesday charges that Avery Fisher Hall is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. 
An investigation found the hall, built in 1962 and one of three main performance spaces at Lincoln Center, does not have the required number of spots for wheelchairs within the seating area, and the doors to the venue are too narrow.

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Roberts on Health Law as Disability Law

Up on SSRN: Jessica Roberts, Health Law as Disability Rights Law (Minn. L. Rev., forthcoming).  The abstract:
When asked to name the most substantial civil rights victory for people with disabilities in recent years, many would choose the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008. However, this Article contends that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also represents a significant — albeit unconventional — advance for disability rights. Historically, health law and civil rights law have operated separately with respect to disability. People with disabilities have thus enjoyed two distinct, mutually exclusive areas of substantive legal protection: those designed to provide benefits and care (health paradigm) and those designed to achieve equality (civil rights paradigm). The ACA bridges this schism. Through its expansion of Medicaid and support for on-going health services, its changes to the underwriting and risk assessment practices of the private health-insurance industry, and its recognition of people with disabilities as a health disparity population, the new law promotes equality for people with disabilities. Thus, health legislation also performs the work of civil rights. 
The Article begins by analyzing the traditional division between the health and civil rights paradigms. It then examines how civil rights legislation has failed to improve access to health services for people with disabilities. Next, the Article explores health-care reform as an issue of disability rights, both in terms of the role of the disability rights advocates in lobbying for the legislation and the impact of the ACA on individuals with disabilities. Finally, it concludes with the proposition that achieving meaningful equality for people with disabilities mandates an integrated approach that moves beyond the confines of the civil rights model.
Okay, given what else is happening today, I probably should have specified in the title that the Roberts to whom I referred was Jessica, not John. Oops.

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House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution Holds Hearing on Son-of-the-ADA-Notification Act

Yesterday, the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on H.R. 3356, the "ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act," which is the latest version of the oft-proposed ADA Notification Act.  The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lungren, testified, as did business owner Lee Ky, disability rights lawyer Andy Levy, and defense lawyer David Warren Peters.  You can find their written testimony, as well as the video of the hearing, at the link above.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Eric Goldman Doesn't Like the Netflix Decision

See this post on Ars Technica by law professor Eric Goldman.  A couple of points.  First, one can search Professor Goldman's post in vain for any acknowledgment of the basic, brute fact here -- that inaccessible websites mean that people with various disabilities are shut off from the important aspects of civic and economic life that, more and more, take place on the internet.  Applying the ADA to demand accessibility of websites does nothing more than serve the statute's basic purpose.  Second, I'm not quite sure why Professor Goldman thinks that people will make "buckets of money" suing internet companies under a statute that doesn't provide for a damages remedy, or why he thinks it was so problematic for the District of Massachusetts (which is in the First Circuit) to follow the First Circuit's Carparts precedent, however "heavily-criticized" he thinks that precedent is.  In any event, as the Department of Justice's ANPRM on web accessibility explained a couple of years ago, the Department has long taken the position that Title III of the ADA applies to the websites of public accommodations:
The Department has also repeatedly affirmed the application of title III to websites of public accommodations. The Department first made this position public in a 1996 letter from Assistant Attorney General Deval Patrick responding to an inquiry by Senator Tom Harkin regarding the accessibility of websites to individuals with visual disabilities. See Letter from Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, to Tom Harkin, U.S. Senator (Sept. 9, 1996), available at The letter has been widely cited as a statement of the Department´s position. The letter does not, however, state whether entities doing business exclusively on the Internet are covered by the ADA. 
In 2000, the Department filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit in Hooks v. OKbridge, Inc., which involved a Web-only business. The Department´s brief explained that a business providing services solely over the Internet is subject to the ADA´s prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of disability. See Brief of the United States as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellant, 232 F.3d 208 (5th Cir. 2000) (No. 99-50891), 1999 WL 33806215, available at In a 2002 amicus brief in the Eleventh Circuit in Rendon v. Valleycrest Productions, Inc., the Department argued against a requirement, imposed outside of the Internet context by some Federal courts of appeals, that there be a nexus between a challenged activity and a private entity´s "brick-and-mortar" facility to obtain coverage under title III. See Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae in Support of Appellant, 294 F.3d 1279 (11th Cir. 2002) (No. 01-11197), 2001 WL 34094038, available at Although Rendon did not involve website access, the Department´s brief argued that title III applies to any activity or service offered by a public accommodation, on or off the premises.
So the Netflix case is not some surprising new development.  To be sure, as the ANPRM acknowledged, the cases do not speak with one voice on this question:
While some actions have been brought regarding access to websites under the ADA that have resulted in courts finding liability or in the parties agreeing to a settlement to make the subject websites accessible, a clear requirement that provides the disability community consistent access to websites and covered entities clear guidance on what is required under the ADA does not exist. See generally, Target, 452 F. Supp. 2d 946; and National Federation of the Blind Join Forces to Develop and Promote Web Accessibility (Mar. 28, 2007), (last visited June 29, 2010); Spitzer Agreement to Make Web Sites Accessible to the Blind and Visually Impaired (Aug. 2004), (last visited June 29, 2010). Two independent Federal agencies have also formally called on the Department to revise its regulations to make clear that the websites of entities covered under title III are subject to the ADA. See Federal Communications Commission, Recommendation 9.10, National Broadband Plan (Mar. 16, 2010), available at (last visited June 29, 2010) ("The DOJ should amend its regulations to clarify the obligations of commercial establishments under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act with respect to commercial websites"); National Council on Disability, The Need for Federal Legislation and Regulation Prohibiting Telecommunications and Information Services Discrimination (Dec. 19, 2006), available at (last visited June 29, 2010) (urging the Department to clarify the ADA´s coverage of websites of title III entities). Although the Department has been clear that the ADA applies to websites of private entities that meet the definition of "public accommodations," inconsistent court decisions, differing standards for determining Web accessibility, and repeated calls for Department action indicate remaining uncertainty regarding the applicability of the ADA to websites of entities covered by title III.
The regulatory process is the ideal place to address the various questions of how to implement the ADA with respect to the website of public accommodations.  (I should note as a matter of full disclosure that I was the political appointee in the DOJ Civil Rights Division who supervised disability rights matter when the web ANPRM was issued.)  But, according to DOJ's longstanding interpretation, which finds support in controlling precedent in the First Circuit, the statute applies of its own force right now.  All the NAD is doing in the Netflix case is enforcing that statute.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Olson Criticizes Netflix Decision

Last week, I blogged on the decision allowing the case seeking captioning on Netflix to proceed.  Walter Olson has a post up on Cato@Liberty criticizing that decision.

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DOJ Obtains $10.5 Million Settlement in Disability-Based Housing Discrimination Suit

See this press release, which begins:
The Justice Department today announced its largest-ever disability-based housing discrimination settlement fund to resolve allegations that JPI Construction L.P. and six other JPI entities (collectively “JPI”) based in Irving, Texas, discriminated on the basis of disability in the design and construction of multifamily housing complexes throughout the United States.

Under the settlement, which was approved today by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, JPI will pay $10,250,000 into an accessibility fund to provide retrofits at properties built by JPI and to increase the stock of accessible housing in the communities where these properties are located. The settlement also requires JPI to pay a $250,000 civil penalty. This is the largest civil penalty the Justice Department has obtained in any Fair Housing Act case.

“Today’s historic settlement demonstrates the Justice Department’s commitment to protecting the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Builders of multifamily housing must consider accessibility at the outset, or they risk significantly greater expense to retrofit properties. As a result of this settlement, multifamily housing complexes will be retrofitted to comply with the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and persons with physical disabilities will be afforded an equal opportunity to live in and visit these properties.”


EEOC Obtains $380K Consent Decree in Failure-to-Accommodate Case

See this press release, which begins:
United Road Towing, Inc., a Mokena, Ill.-based towing company, will pay $380,000 to 13 claimants and provide other relief resolving a disability discrimination lawsuit, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced. A federal district court judge in Chicago entered a consent decree ending the litigation on Wednesday, June 20, 2012. 
The EEOC’s lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 30, 2009, charged that United Road Towing had failed to provide reasonable accommodations to a class of employees with disabilities. The complaint highlighted United Road Towing’s inflexible medical leave policy and practice of terminating employees with disabilities at the end of medical leaves rather bringing them back to work with reasonable accommodation. The alleged discrimination took place in Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

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Pollack on Olmstead Anniversary

Over at The Incidental Economist, Harold Pollack has this appreciation of the Olmstead decision, on the occasion of its Bat Mitzvah.  He calls it, correctly, "among the most important cases for persons living with disabilities in American history."  Navigate on over there and read the whole thing.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Perlin on Mental Health Courts

Up on SSRN: Michael L. Perlin, 'There are No Trials Inside the Gates of Eden': Mental Health Courts, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Dignity, and the Promise of Therapeutic Jurisprudence, in Coercive Care (Bernadette McSherry & Ian Freckelton, eds., forthcoming).  The abstract:
The ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) radically changes the scope of international human rights law as it applies to all persons with disabilities. It is most significantly changed in the area of mental disability law. Always marginalized, individuals with mental disabilities have always been “outsiders” in the world of international human rights law, with many important global human rights agencies traditionally expressing little or no interest in the plight of this cohort. Internationally, persons in forensic mental health systems generally receive, if this even seems possible, less humane services than do civil patients. Prisoners with mental disabilities are treated inhumanely in most nations, both in correctional facilities and in forensic mental health facilities.

Advocates have begun to consider whether the CRPD can potentially remediate this situation, but ratification is too recent to see much concrete change. One potential remedy lies in the expanded use of mental health courts as a means of 1) infusing therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ) into the legal process; 2) assuring that the standards of the CRPD are met; and 3) treating persons with mental disabilities with dignity in the court process. There are now multiple mental health courts in the United States, as well as others in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, but few in civil law nations. Advocates should seize upon the ratification of the CRPD as a launching pad for an international movement to create such courts to emulate the successes of those in common law nations that have operated with dignity using a TJ model while adhering to civil rights and civil liberties principles.

This chapter seeks to explore the intersection between international human rights and the mental health court movement. I begin here, however, with a cautionary note. Notwithstanding the potential great value that mental health courts have for persons with mental disabilities involved in the criminal justice system, it is essential that these courts do not lose their original focus as therapeutic jurisprudence-based courts, and that judges and court administrators resist the temptation to use these courts as coercive vehicles through which to simply expedite case dispositions without any meaningful attention being paid to issues of civil rights, civil liberties, dignity and autonomy. This warning underscores the importance of the responsibility on mental health court judges and administrators to consider the impact of the CRPD – and international human rights law, in general -- on the operation of these courts, especially regarding issues of potentially coercive treatment.
It is time to restructure the dialogue about mental health courts and to (1) consider whether the development of such courts will finally allow us to move away from society’s predominant opinion that mental illness reflects a defect of morality or will, (2) take seriously the potential ameliorative impact of such courts on the ultimate disposition of cases involving criminal defendants with mental disabilities, (3) assess the impact that such courts might have on the extent to which individuals are treated with dignity in the court process.
I remain a strong supporter of mental health courts but believe firmly that supporters must do a better job of responding to some of the critiques of the courts (especially those coming from what I will somewhat-awkwardly characterize as the “political left.” As I will discuss below, the critiques that, I believe, have the most merit are these: that these courts may provide “false hope” to those who come before them, and that the success of the courts is overly-dependent on the personal charisma of the presiding judge.

I believe that our “culture of blame” still infects the entire criminal justice process, and that it continues to demonize persons with mental illness for their status. Until this is remediated, there can be no assurances that mental health courts -- or any other such potentially-ameliorative alternative – will be ultimately “successful” (however we choose to define that term). 
Much of the recent debate on mental health courts has focused either on empirical studies of recidivism or on theorization. All of this discussion, while important and helpful, bypasses the critical issue that must be at the heart of the ultimate inquiry here: do such courts provide additional dignity to the criminal justice process or do they detract from the measure of dignity provided? Until we re-focus our sights on this issue, much of the discourse on this topic remains wholly irrelevant. 
My paper proceeds in this manner. In Part I, I discuss the underpinnings of therapeutic jurisprudence. In Part II, I briefly discuss some of the universal factors that contaminate mental disability law in all nations. In Part III, I look at the new Convention and its general implications for the future of mental disability law, with a special focus on the importance of dignity considerations in a Convention context. In Part IV, I first consider the role of blame in the criminal justice system, and then briefly outline the history of the development of mental health courts and consider some of the more serious criticisms of those courts. I conclude by offering some suggestions as to how therapeutic jurisprudence can best inform a MHC model that can be counted on to enforce international human rights and promote dignity.

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Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing on Olmstead Enforcement

You might think the Olmstead decision was having an anniversary or something!  (It's a Bat Mitzvah, actually.)  This morning, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions held a hearing on Olmstead enforcement.  My old boss Tom Perez testified, as did the incredibly dynamic Henry Claypool from HHS; Rita Landgraf, the Health and Social Services Secretary for the State of Delaware (whose leadership on these issues is reflected in the DOJ Olmstead settlement with her state); Zelia Baugh, the Mental Health Commissioner for the State of Alabama; and Ricardo Thornton, an individual with a disability from Washington, DC, who formerly lived in an institution.  You can find their prepared statements, and video of the hearing, at the link above.

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DOJ Launches "Faces of Olmstead" Website

The website collects "[t]he personal stories of a few of the thousands of people whose lives have been improved by the Olmstead decision and the Department’sOlmstead enforcement work."  You can find it here.

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SF Chronicle on the Netflix Case

See this article, which begins:
A federal judge has taken a step toward requiring Netflix to provide closed-captioning for the deaf on its video-streaming website, ruling that federal disability laws cover businesses that serve their customers online. 
Netflix, headquartered in Los Gatos, is the dominant provider of movies and TV programs on the Internet, with more than 20 million subscribers. The National Association for the Deaf accused the company of violating the law by withholding closed-captioning from most of the videos on its "Watch Instantly" on-demand website.
Also see my earlier coverage of this case.

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Lungren Pushes Son-of-the-ADA-Notification-Act

See this article.  And watch for a hearing on the bill before the House Judiciary Committee next week.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

D. Mass. Allows ADA Title III Challenge to Inaccessibility of Netflix to Proceed

In National Association for the Deaf, Inc. v. Netflix, Inc., No. 11-CV-30168-MAP (D. Mass.), the NAD and other plaintiffs sued Netflix under Title III of the ADA.  They claim that Netflix's video-streaming website is not accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired individuals, because only a small portion of the movies on the website are captioned, and Netflix's personalized recommendation service does not work with captioned films.  Netflix filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, in which it argued, among other things, that a website accessed from the customer's home is not a "place of public accommodation" covered by Title III of the ADA.  In an order denying the motion, Judge Michael Ponsor of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts rejected that argument:
Plaintiffs convincingly argue that the Watch Instantly web site falls within at least one, if not more, of the enumerated ADA categories. The web site may qualify as: a “service establishment” in that it provides customers with the ability to stream video programming through the internet; a “place of exhibition or entertainment” in that it displays movies, television programming, and other content; and a “rental establishment” in that it engages customers to pay for the rental of video programming. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7). 
Defendant next argues that the Watch Instantly web site cannot be a place of public accommodation because it is accessed only in private residences, not in public spaces. According to Defendant, every specific example of a public accommodation in the ADA refers to a public arena that involves people outside of the home (e.g., motion picture house, bakery, laundromat, zoo, and the like). Under the doctrine of ejusdem generis -- which provides that “where general words . . . follow the enumeration of particular classes of things . . . , the general words will be construed as applying only to things of the same general class as those enumerated,” United States v. McKelvey, 203 F.3d 66, 71 (1st Cir. 2000) -- Defendant argues that all “public accommodations” must be accessed outside of a private residence.

Again, this argument is unpersuasive. The ADA covers the services “of” a public accommodation, not services “at” or “in” a public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). This distinction is crucial. Accord Nat’l Fed’n of the Blind v. Target Corp., 452 F. Supp. 2d 946, 953 (N.D. Cal. 2006) (“The statute applies to the services of a place of public accommodation, not services in a place of public accommodation. To limit the ADA to discrimination in the provision of services occurring on the premises of a public accommodation would contradict the plain language of the statute.”). Consequently, while the home is not itself a place of public accommodation, entities that provide services in the home may qualify as places of public accommodation.

Under Defendant’s reading of the statute, many businesses that provide services to a customer’s home -- such as plumbers, pizza delivery services, or moving companies -- would be exempt from the ADA. The First Circuit held in Carparts that such an interpretation is absurd. 37 F.3d at 19 (extending the ADA to businesses that offers services to customers in their homes through the telephone or mail). Under the Carparts decision, the Watch Instantly web site is a place of public accommodation and Defendant may not discriminate in the provision of the services of that public accommodation -- streaming video -- even if those services are accessed exclusively in the home.

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Judge Slams Defense Counsel for Dilatory Tactics in ADA Public Accommodations Case

Here's something you don't see every day.  In a pair of ADA Title III cases in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, the defendants (a Courtyard Marriott and a Comfort Inn, both in Merced, California) filed motions to strike various allegations in the plaintiff's complaint.  The allegations involved the extent of the plaintiff's disabilities, the reasons the plaintiff chose to patronize the defendant hotels, and the injury she experienced at the hotels, as well as various citations to the statutory and legal background.  Some of these allegations seem downright essential to making out a case under Title III, while others are at least helpful in describing the background and basis of the dispute.  And even if some of the allegations were out of place in a complaint (as some legal citations are), responding to them with a motion to strike (as opposed to a responsive pleading or a dispositive motion) does nothing more than waste everyone's time.

Magistrate Judge Sandra M. Snyder recognized this and denied the motions to strike.  She began her opinion this way:
Defendants move to strike portions of Plaintiff's first amended complaint pursuant to F.R.Civ.P. 12(f). Defendants' failure to support their laundry list of materials to be stricken belies their true intent, which is to continue their strategy of delaying the resolution of this case. Finding no basis to strike any portion of the amended complaint, the Court denies the motion.
And she ended her opinion with a threat to impose sanctions on the defense if its dilatory tactics continued:
This Court has repeatedly warned Defendants and their current counsel regarding motions and other litigation tactics apparently presented solely for improper purposes including harassment, delay, and inflation of litigation costs. Further frivolous or malicious tactics will subject Defendants and their attorney to sanctions pursuant to F.R. Civ. P. 11.


EEOC Gets $160K Settlement in Breast Cancer Accommodation/Termination Case

See this press release, which begins:
Johns Hopkins Home Care Group, Inc. (JHHCG), a full-service home health care provider, will pay $160,000 and provide other relief to settle an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In its lawsuit, the EEOC alleged that JHHCG violated the ADA when it discriminated against an employee because of her disability, failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation for her disability, and retaliated against her for bringing her claims to the EEOC. 
According to the EEOC’s suit (Case No. 11-cv-01911-WDQ), filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, JHHCG had employed Ray Ellen Fisher, a registered nurse, as a pediatric case manager since 2003. Fisher was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2009, and her medical treatment required that she take leave shortly thereafter. Following Fisher’s period of leave, when she was cleared to return to work, JHHCG failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed her to return to work despite her limited restrictions – restrictions that were progressively phased out. After JHHCG failed to reasonably accommodate her, Fisher filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and she was then subjected to retaliatory adverse employment actions and terminated.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing En Banc in M.R., Over Dissents

Last December, I blogged about the Ninth Circuit's decision ordering a preliminary injunction against certain Washington State Medicaid cuts in M.R. v. Dreyfus.  Yesterday, over a dissent by Judge Bea, joined by eight other judges, the court denied rehearing en banc.  The dissent's claim of a circuit conflict seems to me wildly overblown, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a cert. petition.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Cuomo Reaches Deal with Legislative Leaders on Abuse Bill

See this Danny Hakim New York Times article, which begins:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a deal Sunday night to create a new state agency to police abuse and neglect of more than one million New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, mental illnesses and other conditions that put them at risk, state officials said Sunday. 
The governor also agreed to take some steps to bolster outside oversight of the state’s care, yielding to concerns raised by Assembly Democrats and some advocates for people with disabilities that state regulators have long failed to adequately respond to cases of abuse on their own. Lawmakers also agreed to expand the state’s public disclosure law, requiring thousands of nonprofit groups that provide services to disabled and mentally ill people to make records of abuse and neglect public. 
“This new law will help us protect the civil rights of the more than one million New Yorkers with disabilities and special needs who for too long have not had the protections and justice they deserve,” the governor said in a statement. He said the new agency “will give New York State the strongest standards and practices in the nation for protecting those who are often the most vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment.”


Walgreeens Hosts CEO Summit on Employing Workers with Disabilities

See this press release, which begins:
Top-level executives from more than a dozen major U.S. companies joined with government officials to launch a nationwide public-private sector initiative to advance employment of people with disabilities. The companies and officials plan to work together to achieve common goals, including to identify and resolve employment barriers facing people with disabilities, share experience and best practices, raise visibility around the effort and awareness of the significant benefits, and expand participation. 
The initiative arose from the first-ever CEO Summit focused on employment of people with disabilities on June 4, 2012, hosted by Walgreens at the company's Windsor, Conn., distribution center. The summit was held at the Walgreens facility to provide participants a first-hand look at the company's robust effort to employ people with disabilities. About 50 percent of the workforce at the distribution center has a disability but all employees work as equals with the same responsibilities and performance standards. 
Summit participants included government officials led by U.S. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Delaware Governor Jack Markell, vice chairman of the National Governors Association. Participating companies included Amerigroup, Ascend Performance Materials, Best Buy, Clarks Companies, Ernst & Young LLP, GE Lighting, IBM, Lowe's Home Improvement, Lundbeck, McLane Company, Merck, OfficeMax, SAP AG, Procter & Gamble, UPS, Walgreens, and Walmart.


Mike Ervin (aka Smart Ass Cripple) in NYT on Medicaid Cuts and People with Disabilities

See this op-ed.  It begins:
TIMES are hard. The states are broke, and some say it’s the fault of people like me, sucking up Medicaid dollars. 
Last week, here in Illinois, the governor signed into law $1.6 billion worth of Medicaid “reform.” The ax came down on disabled children and young adults who are M.F.T.D. — medically fragile, technology dependent — those who have tracheostomies, are ventilator-dependent or need central intravenous lines. New co-payments and income caps could mean that many of these young people will no longer be able to receive care at home and will have to be institutionalized. No more free lunch for them!

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B.C. Supreme Court Invalidates Canadian Statute Prohibiting Physician-Assisted Suicide

Not Dead Yet has the news.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Protesters Seek Pool Access for People with Disabilities

See this story by that title from CNN.  It begins:
"Access is a civil right," chanted more than a hundred demonstrators rallying on Thursday in Washington for a law that would force hotel owners to install pool lifts for people with disabilities. 
The protesters, including representatives of the American Association of People with Disabilities, rallied outside the American Hotel & Lodging Association's headquarters. The protesters say the hotel group is stalling the legislation. 
Ann Cody, an athlete who is paraplegic, was one of the protesters. "This summer, 70% of Americans will be going on vacation and staying at a hotel with a pool -- it is something that is very important and it is a summertime activity that our communities celebrate in and participate in -- and most of us with disabilities don't have an opportunity to engage with our neighbors and friends and families because they aren't accessible," Cody said.

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Suit Challenges Handicapped Parking Fees in Passaic, NJ

See this article, which begins:

A controversial policy of charging disabled residents for handicapped parking spaces in Passaic is based on a state statute that was made null and void by federal law 20 years ago, according to a new lawsuit that, if successful, would affect towns across New Jersey. 
DIAL Inc., a non-profit advocacy group representing disabled residents in Passaic and Essex counties that is seeking to overturn the policy, named both the city of Passaic and the state of New Jersey as defendants in the suit filed in Superior Court. 
“Particularly in these times of budget crises, it seems governments are looking for every possible avenue to stick people with charges for services that previously were free,” said Edward A. Kopelson, DIAL’s lawyer. “This lawsuit is meant to stop government from imposing those fees.”

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DOJ Investigating Transit Access in Cedar Rapids

See this story, which begins:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cedar Rapids has opened an investigation into the city of Cedar Rapids’ compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 
In a letter to Mayor Ron Corbett, the federal prosecutor’s office suggests that the probe centers on access to city buses for disabled people who use wheelchairs. 
The city is asked to produce any record of complaints against it in the last three years related to access to public transportation, “in particular, access to buses by individuals who use wheelchairs and may need additional time to board or exit from a bus.”

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

EEOC Obtains $50K Settlement in Refusal-to-Hire Case

See this blog post, which begins:
Everything seemed to be going the job applicant’s way. 
With a resume boasting a bachelor’s degree in economics and management and a master’s degree in business administration, he was contacted by Stevens Transport of Dallas. After an interview via telephone, he was scheduled for an in-person interview for two open positions. 
When he arrived at the interview, however, the company saw that he was a paraplegic.

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Article on Federal-North Carolina Olmstead Negotiations

See this article in the Raleigh News and Observer.  It begins:

Thousands of frail elderly people in North Carolina live in assisted-living facilities alongside people with mental illness, who are often younger and stronger than the traditional rest-home residents. 
Federal authorities want states to separate the populations whenever possible, and have promised to withhold Medicaid money to make that happen. State officials agree that housing the two groups together is undesirable, but finding a solution has been a headache of long standing. 
The legislature’s temporary solution, laid out in budget proposals, is to set aside $10 million to provide homelike community settings for people with mental illness. As much as $39 million would allow assisted-living centers to house both populations without help from Medicaid, which pays about a third of the cost.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Detroit Free Press on Disproportionate Discipline of Black Students with Disabilities

Plus ça change.  See this article, which begins:
Special-education students in Michigan lost 251,410 hours of instruction during the 2010-11 school year because they were suspended or expelled from school. 
And 20 school districts have been identified as having a disproportionate number of black special-education students who are kicked out of school.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Judge Endorses Virginia Training Center Agreement

See this article by that title from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  It begins:
A federal judge said Friday that with some tweaks he will approve a $2 billion proposed settlement between Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice over services for people with intellectual disabilities. 
Virginia plans to close four of its five training centers for the intellectually disabled and add an extra 4,170 funded waivers so that more individuals can receive services and to help move those in institutions back into communities. 
The agreement would bring Virginia into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and calls for a consent decree under which the state could be held in contempt of court if it fails to live up to the agreement. 
After a daylong hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. said he found the proposal to be lawful, fair and equitable, consistent with public policy and not the product of collusion.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Smart Ass Cripple on Serial Litigation

Let me break my radio silence just to share this terrific post by Smart Ass Cripple on serial ADA litigation.

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Monday, June 04, 2012

Light Blogging

Expect few if any posts from me over the next week, as I travel to the Law and Society Association conference.  Back soon!