Ragged Edge online


News from the

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




© Copyright 2002 The Ragged Edge


This Website produced by Cliffwood Organic Works