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August 29, 2005

'Medical model' run amok

Friday's Los Angeles Times ran an Associated Press story about a high school kid in Lawton, OK suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act to be allowed to use a golf cart in high school golf tournament. You'd've thought the 2001 Supreme Court ruling in PGA Tour, Inc. v. Martin would've settled that issue -- but evidently not, as far as the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association is concerned. The reason I'm blogging about this is because of this:

"They (OSSAA) wouldn't let him use a cart because they said he didn't meet ADA requirements," [his father] Michael Campbell said. "We sent them letters from three doctors stating that (his condition) substantially limits his major life activity, walking.
"They wanted more details. You don't need to give those kind of details under the ADA. They wanted to know exactly how much he could bend his knees. That's practicing medicine."

Grrr. Michael Campbell is on target, as far as I'm concerned, and this is a really good example of the way so many people [read: those who discriminate] see the ADA -- as something you have to "qualify" for by being really medically bad off. Of course now that the Supreme Court has had its way with the law, courts are indeed allowed to get into this medical business -- all the junk about "substantially limited" -- which I don't intend to go into here -- poke around on google if you want to learn more about that.
Rant alert: It makes me really really irritated at the way a civil rights law -- read that again: a civil rights law -- has been turned into some sort of a medical means test. And they keep doing it. The high school athletic association's attorney, Mark Grossman, said the reason they wouldn't allow Scott Campbell to use the cart was because he didn't give them enough -- get this -- medical information.
"They refused to allow us to speak to his doctors.
"There was uncertainty over what his problem was. It would be hard to justify making an exception for someone if it was a temporary condition where rest or physical therapy is needed. If it was temporary such as a broken ankle, you don't want that person out stomping around the golf course. The OSSAA is concerned about the health of all competitors. We don't want them to make their injury worse."

We are at this sorry pass because of the way the ADA has been interpreted in the 15 years since its passage. The courts have been wrongheaded all along, in my opinion. And no, I'm not a lawyer.
That noise you hear is me grinding my teeth.
Of course, Scott might very well win. But that's not the point I'm blogging about. What this story exhibits is the way the medical model has run amok in a law that was supposed to get this nation beyond the medical model. Go figure.
By the way, if you want to read this AP story better do it now -- the L. A. Times puts its stuff into archives really quickly and then I think you have to pay to read them.
COMMENT-BODY:Come on! We already have to 'qualify' to be 'disabled enough.'

That's called Social Security, legalheads!

I *knew* there was a reason to be glad I failed law school.
COMMENT-BODY:I am a lawyer. And, I agree with the decision. It is not unreasonable to ask someone to confirm what medical condition he is seeking a benefit in regard to. How else is the decisionmaker supposed to know whether the person qualifies for the benefit at all? Just the other day, I read an excellent newspaper series about Doug Copp, a pretender who has managed to obtain more than a half million dollars in benefits from the 9/11 medical fund. He did so by falsely claiming to be an expert in rescue who was injured at the World Trade Center site while working underground. Compliance with requirements for disclosure of pertinent information is necessary in most administrative proceedings. Disclosing information about a handicap that one is seeking a benefit for should not be an exception. I

see no basis for your sneering. Do you think that being disabled means people should not have to comply with the rules of society?
COMMENT-BODY:I've said this before, but it needs repeating: The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights law. It is not a benefits law. One does not have to "prove" one is "sufficiently" of one race or another to be able to use the Civil Rights Act. If one is discriminated against on the basis of race or national origin (or religion or a number of other things as spelled out in the Act) one can use the Act. The Disabilities Act was modeled on the same principle: if one is discriminated against on the basis of disability one should be allowed to use the ADA. The fact that courts have interpreted it as a benefits law simply means we do not really seem to want to understand what disability discrimination is. The discriminating party is the one who should have to prove something -- not the victim of discrimination.
COMMENT-BODY:But, anyone can say he has a disability. How do you two propose guarding against people who will take benefits away from the deserving? And, don't tell me it doesn't happen. Just as surely as there are able bodied people who will use wheelchair parking spots, there are able bodied people who will obtain benefits without needing them.

If you haven't read about Doug Copp, do.
COMMENT-BODY:I'm posting as 'anonymous' for obvious reasons in this thread.

It so happens that I am a person who is disabled and uses a wheelchair. That's my qualification to speak on this as far as the 'courts' and being 'disabled' and the 'intrusion of my "Privacy rights" while in court on an entirely different matter.

After having been beaten to a pulp by a raging drunken neighbor who happened to be angry at his girlfriend, not me. It was time to testify against this man who strangled and beat me unrelentlessly.

It would be one thing had the defending attorney of his stuck to the case of his beating me with his fists into my skull for two solid hours and strangling me until I passed out. However, this "defender of the defendant" decided to turn her questioning on my disability. A disability I had
"prior" to the beating.

Had, at any point in time, my complaint been that my already disability had been furthered by this beating, perhaps I could understand the "defense" line of questioning. However, my disability was not the issue. His beating me to a pulp was the issue.

Quite naturally, with a courtroom full of people, I felt quite an intrusion into my medical privacy, which had no bearing on this case and declined to answer by stating that this case is NOT about my disability but about a man who beat me to a pulp, who now has 3 felonies and a misdemeanor on him for said crime.

The Judge ordered me to answer.

Given this leeway, the defense attorney then proceeded to ask questions regarding my disability (which is not why we were all in that courtroom that day) that were very intrusive and against the Law.

Yet, I knew if I didn't answer, I would be held on contempt of court.

The only thing I knew to do was make as simple as possible my answers, i.e. not fully telling the "truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." It was none of their business, had no bearing on the case and was against my rights.

That's how I see it. Am I incorrect? NO. All I do know is that it made a mockery of me in court and angered me to no end.

The judge should have been slapped upside the head for ordering me to answer the question, the defense attorney should have been silenced with an "I object" by my attorney, yet even my own attorney did not Object to the line of questioning.

Somebody tell me that's right?

Why didn't the defense ask me what I used to do for work or when is my usuall menstrual cycle or of all the artists in the world, who is my favorite? They would have been just as useful in that courtroom that day with one exception--my disability was rather mocked, thus it took much credibility from my testimony as the victim of a brutal beating.

Now whether or not that fits on this thread, who knows, I've yet to find a thread on any site where this would fit. So here's my testimony as how my disability was used against me in a court of law, even though it had no bearing on the case at hand, to lower the sentence on the criminal who beat me, and make a mockery of a me, the victim of a brutal beating, to the entire courtroom.

THAT is not okay and was blatant discrimination.

Had I not been disabled, that man would have done some real time in prison, instead, he got out in six months and is back in my building with a vow to kill me.

Had I not been disabled, the issue in the courtroom would have been what did the criminal do and such like that. Yet, it was "So what's your disability?" "Will you explain to the court what exactly that is and give us an understanding of why that disables you." And many more types of questions like that. All the while, the defense attorney, smirking after each of my answers so the courtroom could see her 'smirk.'

It focused on my disability. Not the criminal. Not the facts of the case, nor the fact that he had strangled and beat me brutually.

If I could have, I would have slapped a "Contempt of Court" on that Judge, a "Contempt of Court" on the Defense attorney and a "Contempt of Court" on my own attorney. Not only so, I would have sued for "discrimination", slander of characterization, "libel", and a host of anything else I could have retrieved from the Law books.

Unforgivable behavior by so-called "professionals."

That cannot just happen to me. Given the discrimination against the disabled, I'm sure this happens more than we'll ever hear about.

There's more detail than this but this ought to be sufficient in showing how discrimination works. Even when we are the "victim" of a brutal beating.

My right to life, a fair hearing, a non-discriminatory Court hearing and other basic Civil Rights have been stripped from me.

I have been told that my brain is now dying due to that beating. It caused some sort of chemical chain reaction in my brain that is now killing off my neurons, my brain cells and atrophy of the brain is now one of my newest diagnoses to add to my already disability. My brain is shrinking fast and I am not yet 49 years of age.

Also, I have lesions when through all these years none had been found. My disabilities now have me housebound and in indescribable pain.

I'd move if I had the monies, help, transportation and all the other essentials it takes to move away from my would be murderer--now residing in this building.

And all the Court Jesters and all the Courts Gems, laughed, and they mocked, made insulting remarks.

They smirked and they grinned and gave Mr. and Ms. Q. Public excuses to feel better again.

Posted by mjohnson at August 29, 2005 11:23 AM