Supreme Court To Rule If Cities Can Be Punished For Violating ADA
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
Washington, DC, Apr. 23, 2002 -- Jeffrey Gorman sat in the back of the courtroom at the U.S.
Supreme Court Tuesday, even though his case was being argued.
The reason: The courtroom was not accessible for his wheelchair. Federal
courts do not have to comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
"He told them, 'This is my case.' Apparently that didn't make a difference,"
Gorman's attorney Michael L. Hodges said of Gorman's attempts to be seated
toward the front of the room.
The court was hearing arguments in the case of Barnes v. Gorman. At issue is
whether or not cities can be punished if they do not comply with the
accessibility provisions in the ADA, including providing curb cuts and
wheelchair ramps. Few cities comply fully with the 12-year-old
anti-discrimination law, which did not specify if people could collect
punitive damages for such violations.
In 1992, Gorman was injured when Kansas City, Missouri police took him to
jail charged with trespassing. Gorman, who is paraplegic, was strapped into
a van that did not have the right equipment to transport his wheelchair. On
the way to jail, Gorman fell and injured his shoulder and back.
A jury said the city should pay Gorman $1.2 million in punitive damages. The
city appealed and the case has worked its way up to the highest court.
"They're not above the law even though they're the government," Gorman said
of the city. "They need to be punished."
The Bush administration has joined Kansas City attorneys in arguing that
Congress never intended for cities to face large jury judgments when they
passed the ADA.
The court's ruling, which is expected this summer, would apply to cities
across the nation.
Back to home page