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  • "No" Is Not Final Answer For "Millionaire" Discrimination Suit
  • Staff Member In Restraint Death Will Go To Trial
  • Justin Dart, Jr. dies
  • Supremes Ban Capital Punishment for Retarded Offenders
  • Sidewalks Must Be Accessible, Says 9th Circuit
  • Southwest Airlines double charges obese flyers
  • Supremes: No Punitive Damages Under ADA
  • Conservation Groups Oppose Accessible Trail Plan
  • Former Home Of Eugenics Research Now Warns Of Modern Eugenics Ideas
  • Supreme Court Further Limits ADA

    Staff Member In Restraint Death Will Go To Trial
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    MASON CITY, IOWA -- On February 9, 2001, Tanner Wilson died while two staff members restrained him in a "routine physical holding" at Gerard of Iowa, a mental health facility.

    An autopsy revealed the 11-year-old boy died of asphyxiation -- he suffocated to death -- and ruled his death a homicide.

    One of the staff members accused of assisting in the restraint goes on trial August 6.

    Lori Ann Meacham is charged with child endangerment in connection with Tanner's death. If she is convicted, Meacham faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Her trial was originally scheduled for last November, but was delayed because Meacham was pregnant at the time.

    Tanner had Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. He had been a resident of Gerard of Iowa for a year and a half before his death.

    Justin Dart, Jr. dies
    June 24, 2002 -- Justin Dart, Jr., widely hailed as "the father of the Americans with Disabilities Act" and "the godfather of the disability rights movement," died at his home June 21. He was 71, and had in recent years contended with complications of post-polio syndrome and congestive heart failure. Dart was a leader in the disability rights movement for three decades and had received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in civil rights.

    "He is survived by his wife Yoshiko, their extended family of foster children, his many friends and colleagues, and millions of disability and human rights activists all over the world," wrote Justice For All's Fred Fay and Fred Pelka.

    Visit the Justin Dart Memorial Website

    Supremes Ban Capital Punishment for Retarded Offenders
    June 21, 2002 -- The Supreme Court on Thursday voted 6-3 to abolish the execution of mentally retarded offenders, calling such death sentences "cruel and unusual punishment" prohibited by the Constitution. More from The Washington Post.

    Sidewalks Must Be Accessible, Says 9th Circuit
    Sacramento, June 15, 2002 -- The Americans with Disabilities Act does apply to sidewalks, so they must be made accessible, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled June 12. The ruling was the latest in a class-action lawsuit against the city of Sacramento, CA for failing to maintain its sidewalks so they are usable by people in wheelchairs.

    "Maintaining public sidewalks is a normal function of a city" and the ADA requirement for curb ramps "would be meaningless if the sidewalks between curb ramps were inaccessible," said the court.

    "This is the first and only decision in the nation that addresses the obligation to make sidewalks accessible," said Larry Paradis of Disability Rights Advocates, the law firm handling the class-action suit. As a result of the ruling, Sacramento will be required to develop a plan to identify and remove obstacles that keep people with mobility and vision disabilities to travel safely around the city. Examples of obstacles covered by the Court's ruling include abrupt changes in level where tree roots have caused cracks that can trip blind pedestrians and block wheelchair passage; obstructions from signs, outdoor seating, trash cans, etc., and excessive cross slopes where driveways cross the sidewalk.

    The court rejected the argument made by Sacramento that the ADA should not apply to sidewalks and cities should be free to disregard existing sidewalk barriers. Over 100 other cities had joined with Sacramento in arguing before the court that they should not have to obey the ADA.

    Read Court opinion

    A Fresno, CA man is killed from lack of sidewalk access.
    Southwest Airlines double charges obese flyers
    June 20, 2002 -- Southwest Airlines is under fire for its policy to charge double fare for individuals who cannot fit comfortably in its coach-class seats, prompting charges of discrimination against obese individuals. More from USA Today.
    Supremes: No Punitive Damages Under ADA
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    WASHINGTON, D.C., June 17, 2002 -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled that people with disabilities may not seek punitive damages from government boards and agencies that refuse to build wheelchair ramps or make other accommodations.

    It is the fourth time in the current session that the court has ruled against people with disabilities who filed discrimination suits based on the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

    In the 9-0 decision, the court ruled in Barnes v. Gorman that people may sue for actual damages, but not punitive damages. The ruling is not limited to the ADA and applies to any boards and agencies that accept federal grants, including local parks and school boards.

    The case involved Jeffrey Gorman who was injured while being taken to jail in a police van after being arrested for trespassing at a Kansas City, Missouri country-western bar. Gorman claimed officers removed him from his wheelchair, propped him on a bench in the van, and tied him with his belt. During the trip to the jail, he fell and injured his shoulder and back.

    The court's ruling lets stand the $1 million in compensatory damages Gorman won from the police department, but does not allow him to receive the $1.2 million he had claimed in punitive damages. The decision overturns an earlier ruling by the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis which had ruled that Gorman was entitled to punitive damages under the ADA.

    Yahoo! News has the Associated Press story at http://www.inclusiondaily.com/news/red/02/0617a.htm

    Conservation Groups Oppose Accessible Trail Plan
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    HAINES, AK, June 17, 2002 -- Dale Mulford wants to finish a 5.5 mile accessible trail from his property to the 3,600 foot summit of nearby Mount Ripinsky. He has already completed one-fifth of the trail that would allow people with disabilities to use quiet motorized carts in order to enjoy the spectacular views up the mountain.

    Mulford has acquired a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build bridges and culverts on the trail, and a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to build restrooms.

    He now needs a permit from the state Department of Natural Resources in order to finish the trail because it would go across state land.

    But the department has received written comments from about 100 residents, with nearly 95 percent of them opposing Mulford's plan. A spokesperson for one conservation group said Southeast Alaska already has plenty of opportunities for visitors with disabilities to reach alpine areas.

    More details are available from the Associated Press via Monday's Juneau Empire State News On-line at http://juneauempire.com/stories/061702/sta_haines.shtml

    Former Home Of Eugenics Research Now Warns Of Modern Eugenics Ideas
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK -- On May 2, 1927, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Virginia law giving the state permission to sterilize thousands of its citizens considered "unfit". The ruling in Buck vs. Bell made legitimate the concept of eugenics -- the idea that society could be improved by controlling the numbers of people with certain disabilities. Over the next five decades an estimated 65,000 Americans in 30 states were sterilized without their permission. It is also believed that Adolph Hitler used the Virginia law as a model for his own efforts to get rid of "imperfect" members of his "Aryan race" during the Nazi era.

    Last month, the state of Virginia erected a roadside marker in Charlottesville, home town of Carrie Buck, the plaintiff of the Supreme Court case. Carrie and her mother, Emma, were committed to the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded and were considered "feeble-minded" and "promiscuous" because they had children out of wedlock. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., gave the Court's decision, including the infamous phrase, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

    Also last month, Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner officially apologized for his state's part in the eugenics movement.

    The American Eugenics Movement has been discredited and the sterilization laws have all been withdrawn. Today, however, technological breakthroughs are giving scientists and medical professionals the tools to do much of what eugenics supporters were attempting.

    Now the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which had been the center of eugenics research in the early part of the 19th century, is working to make sure that the history of eugenics is not repeated in the future.

    "If we are not to repeat the errors of the past, we will need to examine modern eugenics visions with intellectual rigor," said Steven Selden of the University of Maryland. Seldon is a eugenics historian who spoke at a eugenics conference sponsored by the lab.

    Related resources:

    Newsday offered the following article about Cold Spring Harbor's new role, which also ran in the Salt Lake Tribune at http://www.sltrib.com/06132002/thursday/745027.htm

    David Micklos, Director of the Dolan DNA Learning Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, recently wrote "None Without Hope: Buck vs. Bell at 75", online at http://www.dnalc.org/resources/buckvbell.html

    For those readers who have not done so, I suggest checking out the Website for the Laboratory's Eugenics Archive on the American Eugenics Movement: http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics

    Nearly half of those Virginians who were involuntarily sterilized lived at what was called the "State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded". This was the name given to the institution now known as Central Virginia Training Center. Doctors at CVTC officially sterilized thousands of people between 1927 and 1956, although it is suggested that the practice continued there through 1972.

    CVTC is still the largest institution in Virginia, housing 650 people with mental retardation. Forced sterilizations at the facility are mentioned briefly on the "History" page of the CVTC website: http://www.cvtc.state.va.us

    Supreme Court Further Limits ADA
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2002 -- For the third time this session, the U.S. Supreme Court has handed employers a victory in interpreting the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

    On Monday the court ruled 9-0 that employers do not have to hire a person with a disability if they believe that person's health or safety would be put at risk by performing the job.

    The decision upholds a regulation set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency that enforces the ADA in the workplace. That regulation allows businesses to refuse to hire a worker if that worker would "pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals" or of the individual.

    The case involved Mario Echazabal, 56, who had worked for maintenance contractors at a Chevron refinery in El Segundo, California beginning in 1972. Twice during the 1990s, Echazabal applied for maintenance jobs with Chevron, which found him well qualified for the positions. But Chevron withdrew the offers after required physical examinations showed he had hepatitis C, a chronic liver disease.

    Chevron then asked the maintenance contractor to fire or reassign Echazabal, saying he risked further liver damage the longer he worked around the chemicals and toxins at the plant. He was fired and now drives a school bus part-time.

    Echazabal filed suit in 1997, claiming that the ADA protects qualified workers from discrimination based on their disability. Chevron argued that employers should be able to keep people out of jobs where they could become injured or killed.

    A federal judge threw out Echazabal's case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit sided with Echazabal, calling Chevron's actions "paternalistic." Monday's decision reversed the Court of Appeals ruling.

    Business owners called the decision a victory. Chevron's position was supported by the Bush Administration.

    Disability rights advocates worried that the ruling against Echazabal would allow employers to reject qualified workers with disabilities by saying it was for their own good. They said workers should be able to decide if the job was too dangerous for them.

    "The United States Supreme Court today once again demonstrated its fundamental hostility to disability rights in the workplace," said Andrew J. Imparato, president of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).

    You can access the decision, Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Echazabal, on the Findlaw Website: http://laws.findlaw.com/us/000/00-1406.html.

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