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Americans with Disabilities Act Program Press Releases
2002-2004

(7.26.04 ) DISABILITY GROUPS FILE 14 LAWSUITS TO COMMEMORATE 14TH ANNIVERSARY OF ADA

(7.21.03) TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT FILES “LUCKY 13" LAWSUITS AROUND TEXAS TO FIGHT DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

(4.28.03) TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST BRAZOS COUNTY FOR DISABILITY LAW VIOLATIONS

(1.03.03) U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GRANTS JUDGMENT AGAINST WHEELCHAIR & WALKER RENTALS, INC. IN DISABILITY RIGHTS CASE

(9.23.02) SETTLEMENT REACHED IN FEDERAL SUIT AGAINST CITY OF AUSTIN, AUSTIN POLICE AND CATFISH PARLOUR

(7.25.02) DISABILITY COMMUNITY WRAPS UP 12 FEDERAL LAWSUITS IIN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

(7.17.02) TCRP FILES THIRD SET OF FEDERAL LAWSUITS IN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

(7.09.02) TCRP FILES 2nd SERIES OF FEDERAL LAWSUITS IN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

(3.05.02) TCRP SUES CITY OF MANOR FOR DISABILITY LAW VIOLATIONS

July 26, 2004
PRESS RELEASE
=========
DISABILITY GROUPS FILE 14 LAWSUITS TO COMMEMORATE
14TH ANNIVERSARY OF ADA

ADAPT of Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed 14 lawsuits in Austin today, commemorating the 14th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law on July 26, 1990.

Despite the fourteen years that have passed since the ADA’s inception, many businesses, as well as government agencies, are not accessible to individuals with disabilities, even though tax credits are available to businesses to achieve compliance with the ADA. The 14 business and organizations being served are:

1) Travis County Clerk: Voters with disabilities experienced instances of discrimination at the voting precincts due to lack of accessibility. Suit filed in Travis County District Court.
2) Chisholm Trail Winery: Users of wheelchairs unable to access winery. The many violations include a lack of accessible parking, entrance, or restroom. Suit filed in Austin federal court.
3) Dillard’s, Houston and Austin: Department stores discriminate against users of wheelchairs. The aisles are far too narrow for wheelchairs to use. Suit filed in Travis County District Court.
4) Pizza Hut: This restaurant has failed to provide an accessible entrance for disabled persons. Suit filed in Travis County District Court.
5) City of Houston and Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County: City and Metro discriminated against disabled persons by denying proper access to pedestrian sidewalks, intersections, and other public areas in the city. Suit filed in Houston federal court.
6) USCIS, San Antonio: U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services San Antonio office has no handicap parking and inaccessible facilities. Suit filed in San Antonio federal court.
7) Transportation Security Administration & Department of Homeland Security: A disabled man with a prosthetic limb harassed at Austin-Bergstrom Airport during the security procedures. Suit filed in Austin federal court.
8) Landry’s Seafood House, Corpus Christi: Disabled persons are discriminated at this restaurant due to its inaccessible seating and restrooms. Suit filed in Corpus Christi federal court.
9) Sonic Drive-In #9: Burnet Road restarurant does not offer wheelchair seating. Also has some restroom violations and doors too heavy for disabled persons. Filed, Travis County District Court.
10) Bank of America: Two Austin locations have denied disabled persons access because of their high counters, their overly deep ATMs, and inaccessible handicap entrances.
11) Café Josie: This restaurant denies disabled persons access due to its lack of an entrance ramp. Suit filed in Travis County District Court.
12) Professional Health Care Services: Plaintiff has muscular sclerosis and severe chemical sensitivity. Defendant’’s nurses and attendants would arrive at her home wearing scents, something which caused her to go into spasms and shock. Suit filed in Dallas federal court.
13) Spaghetti Warehouse: This restaurant on 4th street has denied users of wheelchairs access for years due to its inaccessible ramp as well as problems with its restrooms. Suit filed in Travis Country District Court.
14) Wells Fargo: 4 Austin locations discriminate against users of wheelchairs due to inaccessible entrances, heavy doors, and high counter heights. Filed, Travis County District Court.

As in previous years, the two organizations have teamed up to help make the ADA effective in the lives of Texans with disabilities. TCRP began the annual litigation campaigns on the 7th anniversary of the ADA. Virtually all 131 lawsuits filed around the State in the last seven anniversary campaigns have been either settled or won in court.

David Wittie, as well as other members of ADAPT, have been repeatedly discriminated against by the Spaghetti Warehouse. They have complained to management and staged protests over a number of years to no avail. Their steep and inaccessible ramp make it impossible for users of wheelchairs to enter the restaurant without aid from bystanders. They have also built their ramp in front of a parking space causing many users of wheelchairs to be trapped in by parked cars. In one instance, an employee of Spaghetti Warehouse’s corporate office flew into a rage when speaking to Mr. Wittie on the phone.

Jennifer McPhail has long encountered problems when trying to vote in Travis County. In one instance, a voting booth she tried to use was inaccessible. “The idea that everyone is able to participate in the political process is central to our democracy. That individuals with disabilities are experiencing discrimination –– and unable to participate in the political process because of our disabilities –– is a denial of our most fundamental civil rights. We hope this campaign will raise the awareness that the ADA ensures the right of individuals with disabilities to participate in all aspects of our society.”

Jim Harrington, Director of TCRP, which is providing representation in the fourteen cases, said: “These cases home the point that, while much progress has occurred in the fourteen years since the ADA became the law, society can still do much better in opening its doors to fellow citizens with disabilities. Our goal is to see an anniversary without one suit to file; but, until the promise of equal rights arrives, we will keep fighting against discrimination and for justice under law. This is the most basic foundation of civil rights –– opening the doors for everybody.””

This year, the City of Austin is producing a list awarding certain businesses and organizations that have complied with ADA regulations. One award recipient, Paramount Theater, was sued by ADAPT and TCRP to enforce ADA compliance. These anniversary campaigns not only help ensure equal rights, but also benefit the businesses and organizations who, like Paramount Theater, can even receive awards for making their facilities comply with the ADA.

In addition to the cases mentioned above, TCRP’s South Texas office is also filing 14 of its own ADA cases, making it a total of 28 suits being filed this year.

For further information, please call Jim Harrington at TCRP (512) 474-5073.


April 28, 2003

PRESS RELEASE
-----------------------
TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST BRAZOS COUNTY FOR DISABILITY LAW VIOLATIONS

The Texas Civil Rights Project today filed suit on behalf of Lillie Massey, a resident of Bryan, Texas, claiming that the Brazos County Courthouse is inaccessible for persons with physical disabilities. The suit, brought under federal and state disability laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), alleges that the courthouse does not provide a working elevator for use by people with disabilities.

The suit alleges that in both July and September, 2002, Massey arrived at the Brazos County Courthouse for required probation meetings to be held on the second floor of the two-story building. Her disability, which significantly limited her ability to climb stairs, required that she use an elevator. The only handicap-accessible elevator at the courthouse, located outside of the building, was locked on both occasions.

On the first occasion, after 30 minutes, five employees’ help, and a significant amount of embarrassment and inconvenience, Massey was able to reach her meeting on the second floor of the courthouse by way of the prisoner elevator. The second occasion, in September, however, was much less successful. Massey, finding the elevator locked again, and this time unable to locate assistance, attempted to climb the concrete stairs so as not to be late to the probation meeting. Ultimately, the plaintiff lost her balance while attempting to hoist herself up the last couple of steps, and fell down the entire flight of stairs.

As a result of the courthouse’s negligence and failure to comply with the regulations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, the suit alleges that the plaintiff suffered hip, knee and back injuries, and continues to be plagued with constant, severe pain, acute depression, migraines, and mental anguish. The plaintiff has been forced to make a total of four trips to the hospital since that time for treatment.

Ms. Massey and the Texas Civil Rights Project are suing the courthouse for negligence, non-compliance with ADA regulations, and actual damages sustained by the plaintiff as a result of her fall.

Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, said it was “unfortunate that people still had to file lawsuits to make their municipalities accessible for all their citizens. The ADA has been in effect since 1990, and thirteen years later, public facilities still can’t get their acts together.”
TCRP has filed nearly 100 lawsuits throughout Texas within the past five years as part of a concerted effort to implement the ADA and make public and private buildings and services more accessible to people with disabilities.

For more information, please call Jim Harrington at (512) 474-5073.

--end--

January 3, 2003

U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE GRANTS JUDGMENT AGAINST WHEELCHAIR & WALKER RENTALS, INC. IN DISABILITY RIGHTS CASE

United States District Judge David Briones has entered judgement against Wheelchair & Walker Rentals, Inc., of El Paso, ordering it to bring its facility at 611 Montana Street into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and state disability law.

The judge ordered the store to make its front entrance way accessible (it now has a step up that impedes wheelchair access), create and clearly mark disability parking, and put directional signage from the parking to the front of the facility. In addition, Briones ordered the company to pay $4152 in attorneys fees, as well as court costs, and awarded the Plaintiff in the case, Rubén Fernández of El Paso, $500 in statutory penalties. The company has paid the sums of money awarded, and is in the process of complying with the order of the Court.

The case against Wheelchair & Walker Rentals was brought by the Texas Civil Rights Project on behalf of Ruben Fernández, as part of the Project's annual ADA compliance campaign. TCRP filed twelve lawsuits in different areas in Texas, on July 26, 2002, commemorating the twelfth anniversary of the ADA. TCRP also filed three other lawsuits in El Paso as apart of the twelve, including the downtown Burger King, Family Dollar Stores, and LaGoona Restaurant.

TCRP Director Jim Harrington expressed satisfaction of Judge Briones' order and hoped that "the judgment would send a signal to all other businesses in El Paso of the importance of complying with federal and state disability laws, which now have been on the books for more than a decade, and the penalties that will happen when there is non-compliance. We intend to continue working closely with the disability community in El Paso to make sure that the promise of equal access to our society for people with disabilities becomes a reality." Harrington also noted the irony of filing a disability suit against a wheelchair and walker company, "above all others, they should know the importance of access for people with disabilities. One gets the impression that the company was happy to take money from people in wheelchairs, but not obey the law and let them into the store. This suit has exposed, and ended, that hypocrisy."

For further information, please contact Jim Harrington at 512.474.5073

July 21, 2003
PRESS RELEASE
=========

TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT FILES “LUCKY 13" LAWSUITS AROUND TEXAS TO FIGHT DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION

-------------------
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES COMMEMORATE ADA’S 13th BIRTHDAY AT BUSINESSES, ON SIDEWALKS, AND IN COURTHOUSE
-------------------
The Texas Civil Rights Project today filed thirteen lawsuits throughout Texas to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

TCRP helped kick off an ADA celebration at the Houston Center for Independent Living by filing five of the thirteen lawsuits in Houston against local violators:

(1) The City of Houston, for sidewalks that are unusable and dangerous for wheelchairs,
(2) Texas State Optical, for refusing to give an eye exam to a woman in a wheelchair,
(3) Dollar Arena, for refusing to move boxes that block aisles and trap customers inside,
(4) Ryland Homes, for inaccessible model homes and offices, and
(5) Aldine School District, for stadiums that don’t allow a mother to watch her son.

The other eight lawsuits involve defendants in, respectively, San Antonio, El Paso, Waco, Crawford, Laredo, Collin City, Canyon Lake, and Port Arthur:

(6) Bexar County Court, for failing to provide court interpreters for hearings,
(7) Walgreens Drug Store, for entrances and aisles too narrow for wheelchairs,
(8) Baylor University, for a ticket booth too high to allow a ticket purchase,
(9) Crawford Country Style, for a gift shop with way for a person in a wheelchair to enter,
(10) La Hacienda Hotel, for lying to purposely block enforcement of disability parking,
(11) Collin City Jail, for having no usable bathrooms for prisoners in wheelchairs,
(12) Silverleaf Resorts, for reneging on promise of accessible timeshare to a war veteran, and
(13) The City of Port Arthur, for sidewalks that deny access to wheelchair users.

As in previous years, TCRP’s campaign will help make the ADA effective in the lives of Texans with disabilities. TCRP began the annual litigation campaigns on the 7th anniversary of the ADA. Most of the lawsuits filed around the State for the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th anniversaries have either been successfully settled or won in court.

Wayne Krause, Staff Attorney for the nonprofit Texas Civil Rights Project, which is providing representation in the thirteen cases, said of his clients that, "These everyday people want to drive home the point that, while much progress has been made in the thirteen years since the ADA became the law, we can still do much better in opening the doors of our society to our fellow citizens with disabilities. Our goal is to see an anniversary without one suit to file, but until we realize the promise of equal rights, we will keep fighting against discrimination and for justice under the law. This is the most basic foundation of civil rights – opening the doors for everybody."

Malaika Adan, a Houston resident who uses a wheelchair and issuing the City, said “My experience with the sidewalks has been horrific. Imagine feeling safer wheeling in traffic than on the sidewalk. Since the ADA has been in effect for thirteen years, there is no excuse why the government or businesses shouldn't be accessible by now. Not following the ADA is disrespectful of people with disabilities, and a direct impediment to our becoming independent members of the community. I think our lawsuit campaign will change that attitude. I’m very happy we can do this.”

Bob and Barbara Hines Tegtmeier of Golden Triangle ADAPT of Port Arthur said, “We hope these suits will send a strong signal to local businesses and government offices that we take the ADA seriously, and they will need to, also."

Adrian Haro, who volunteers with the City of Laredo to stop illegal parking in disability-reserved spaces but was falsely harassed and detained La Hacienda’s manager, said, “Most of us are trying to make our world a better place for people with disabilities. We believe in equality. But some people just don’t get it. These lawsuits should send the message loud and clear that freedom is for everybody.”

Deborah Boudreaux of Houston said that when TSO denied her an eye exam because she was in a wheelchair, “It upset me terribly. I’m a person like everybody else. It’s not that difficult. I gave them every chance to help me out, but they just refused to give me the same service anybody else would get. Congress even gives businesses two years of tax credits to help them become accessible. This campaign is part of the struggle of people with disabilities in Texas to secure full participation in everyday life, including the independence that comes with everything from shopping to using the bathroom, from staying at a hotel to seeing a basketball game to simply using the sidewalk. These are activities that everyone else can enjoy, but we cannot if we are denied access.”

-end-

September 23, 2002

PRESS RELEASE

Settlement Reached in Federal Suit against City of Austin, Austin Police, and Catfish Parlour in for Assaulting and Arresting
Elderly Blind & Deaf Patrons at Catfish Parlour

A settlement was reached in the federal trial against City of Austin, Austin police, and Catfish Parlour for arresting and assaulting an elderly blind & deaf patron at Catfish Parlour and his wife. The suit claimed that the Catfish Parlour in north Austin called the police when an elderly couple, Richard and Joan Bell of Austin, asked for a Braille menu and a confrontation arouse, caused by the restaurantís manager, Gene Perri, and his staff. After taking Mr. Bellís cane from him, Perri called the police, who came and arrested Mr. Bell, although admittedly sitting quietly at the table at the time.

During the course of the arrest, the suit claimed the arresting officer, Daniel Arizpe, used excessive force on Mr. Bell. The suit also alleged that the officer violated police policy by making the arrest without having an interpreter present at the scene, and that the policy expressly prohibits arresting a deaf person without having an interpreter present.

The case was brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as traditional civil rights law. The suit sought damages for injuries to Mr. Bell and for violations of the coupleís rights under the ADA. The suit also sought a court order increasing the quantity and quality of disability training that the City provides to its police officers.

The suit was brought on July 26, 2001, as part of the Texas Civil Rights Projectís 11th ADA anniversary campaign, as part of which TCRP filed eleven ADA lawsuits around the state.

The settlement as to the City of Austin requires the City to:

(1) increase by two hours (to four hours) the amount of training that new Austin police officers receive regarding people with disabilities, including people who are deaf and/or blind;

(2) implement annual training for all officers regarding people with disabilities, including people who are deaf and/or blind, according to a curriculum and plan devised by the disability law trainer, currently Kristin Lund who provides training for both the Travis County Sheriffís Department and the Austin Police (Travis County deputies currently receive four hours at their academy);

(3) establish a 7-member committee, including a designee of TCRP, Kristin Lund, Austin Community College instructor Byron Bridges, Austin ADA Coordinator Dolores Gonzales, a City designee, and other members from the disability community, to make other training and procedure recommendations; and,

(4) pay $10,000 in court costs, litigation expenses, and attorneysí fees.

The settlement as to Catfish Parlour requires the restaurant to:

(1) print and have on hand Braille menus for its patrons;

(2) provide ongoing training for its employees regarding people with disabilities, including people who are deaf and/or blind; and,

(3) pay $22,800 as damages to Mr. & Mrs. Bell, court costs, litigation expenses, and attroneysí fees.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Bell expressed great happiness with t he settlements today, and for the vast increase in the training that the police will now receive. "We were very scared to begin this lawsuit because we had never done anything like this," said Richard Bell,"but we decided to stick with it and try to change things not only for us but also for all the members of the disability community so we would all be treated with dignity and respect."

Jim Harrington, Director of TCRP, which represented Mr. and Mrs. Bell said he was "very pleased with the settlement and hoped that it would provide a model for other police departments. We were honored to represent Mr. and Mrs. Bell in this case, and very happy we could be part of helping extend the promise of the ADA to the disability community in Central Austin."

For further information, please call Jim Harrington at 512-474-5073.

Texas Civil Rights Project

July 25, 2002

PRESS RELEASE

DISABILITY COMMUNITY WRAPS UP 12 FEDERAL LAWSUITS

IN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

FIESTA TEXAS AMUSEMENT PARK IS FINAL DEFENDANT

San Antonio residents and the Texas Civil Rights Project today filed the fourth and final round of lawsuits in their campaign to improve compliance by San Antonio businesses and government offices with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Todayís suits, all filed in federal court, are against Fiesta Texas Six Flags, The McNay Art Museum, Yellow Cab Company, and the Methodist Healthcare System. The targets today again reflect a range of lack of access to facilities and programs for people with disabilities. While this concludes the current campaign in San Antonio, TCRP will begin a second campaign, and so on, should compliance remain dismal.

The San Antonio disability community and TCRP chose July for its campaign to file twelve lawsuits commemorating the 12th anniversary of the ADA on July 26th. Jim Harrington, TCRP Director said: "The fact we had to file twelve lawsuits over 4 weeks' time should show how much ADA compliance is still lacking in San Antonio businesses and government buildings. The campaign should also show how much we are committed to improving ADA compliance in San Antonio." 

TCRP's San Antonio ADA initiative has included suits against Jail House CafÈ, the Downtown Library, City of San Antonio Municipal Records facility, Church's Chicken, Texaco, EZ's, Ingram Park Mall-Simon, and several Jimís Locations. 

TCRP has been involved in more than 250 ADA cases throughout Texas over the last seven years, and has helped considerably to change the level of ADA compliance in the state.

For further information or to set up an interview with one of the plaintiffs in these and other suits, please call Gilbert Gonzalez or Jim Harrington at 512-474-5073.

TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT

Texas Civil Rights Project

July 17, 2002

PRESS RELEASE

TCRP FILES THIRD SET OF FEDERAL LAWSUITS IN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

Two San Antonio residents and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed the third round of lawsuits in their campaign to improve compliance by San Antonio businesses and government offices with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) yesterday.

Yesterdayís suits, filed in San Antonio federal court, are against Ingram Park Mall and Jimís Restaurants. These defendants reflect a portion of the range of facilities that remain inaccessible to people with disabilities. TCRP has committed itself to file federal suits against business and government facilities throughout San Antonio every Tuesday for four weeks. If ADA compliance remains dismal, TCRP will continue to support the local disability community by suing discriminatory corporations, small businesses, and government entities.

Jim Harrington, Director for TCRP, who filed yesterdayís cases, said: "San Antonio businesses and government offices must improve their ADA compliance. They have had 12 years to comply with the ADA. There are bigger suits coming next week for those local businesses and government facilities that refuse to open their establishments to all persons, including those with disabilities. We'll keep filing suits from now until the end of the year if need be."

TCRP began the San Antonio ADA initiative by filing suits against the Municipal Records facilities, the San Antonio Main Library, and the Jail House CafÈ. The campaign continued last week with suits against Churchís Fried Chicken, Texaco, and EZ's.

TCRP also sued the Greater Helotes Little League Complex last month for refusing the request of a father of two Little Leaguers to firm up the gravel pathways to the baseball fields so that he could attend his childrenís games. The father had been making the simple request for 14 months.

TCRP has successfully completed similar campaigns in Austin, Houston, Beaumont, Laredo, East Texas, and El Paso. TCRP is a nonprofit organization that promotes racial, social and economic justice through litigation and education.

For further information, please call Gilbert Gonzalez or Wayne Krause at (512) 474-5073.

Texas Civil Rights Project

PRESS RELEASE

July 9, 2002

TCRP FILES 2nd SERIES OF FEDERAL LAWSUITS IN 4-WEEK ADA CAMPAIGN IN SAN ANTONIO

Three San Antonio residents and the Texas Civil Rights Project today filed the second round of lawsuits in their campaign to improve compliance by San Antonio businesses and government offices with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Today's suits, all filed in San Antonio federal court, are against Texaco, Church's Fried Chicken and EZ's. The three targets today reflect a range of lack of access to facilities for people with disabilities. TCRP has committed itself to file three federal suits against business or government facilities throughout San Antonio every Tuesday for four weeks. If ADA compliance remains dismal, TCRP will begin a second campaign, and so on.

Jim Harrington, Director for TCRP, who filed todayís cases, said: "Today's suits should show San Antonio businesses and government offices that we are committed to improving ADA compliance in San Antonio. We'll keep filing suits from now until the end of the year if need be. The ADA is ten years old, and there is no reason why local businesses and government shouldnít be in compliance."

Fernando Fern·ndez, a plaintiff in the campaign, explained "that hopefully this campaign will get the attention of the city. If not, maybe we should invite the mayor to spend a day in a wheelchair. Iíll be happy to lend him mine."

TCRP began the San Antonio ADA initiative by filing suits against the Municipal Records facilities, the San Antonio Main Library, and Jail House CafÈ.

Last month, TCRP sued the Greater Helotes Little League Complex for refusing the request of the father of two little leaguers for 14 months to firm up the gravel pathways to the ball fields so that he could use his wheelchair on them.

TCRP has successfully completed similar campaigns in Austin, Houston, Beaumont, Laredo, East Texas, and El Paso. TCRP is a nonprofit organization that promotes racial, social and economic justice through litigation and education. 

For further information, please call Gilbert Gonzalez or Jim Harrington at (512) 474-5073.

Texas Civil Rights Project

PRESS RELEASE

July 2, 2002

4-WEEK ADA LAWSUIT CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCED FOR SAN ANTONIO BY DISABILITY ADVOCATES: TO COMMEMORATE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF ADA

Today, a group of San Antonio residents with disabilities and the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) announced a 12-lawsuit campaign to bring San Antonio businesses and government agencies into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, on the12th Anniversary of the ADA. The ADA was signed into law on January 26, 1990.

The campaign will file three federal suits against business or government facilities in various locations in San Antonio every Tuesday for the next four weeks. The first three entities to be sued, today, are the San Antonio Main Library, San Antonio City Records Facility, and the Jail House CafÈ.

The overall goal of the ADA campaign is to get business and local government to take seriously the ADA in San Antonio. Wayne Krause, TCRP staff attorney, who filed todayís cases, said: "The ADA has been on the books for twelve years and there is absolutely no reason why local businesses and governments shouldnít be in compliance with the law of the land. Not abiding by the ADA is an affront to people with disabilities and a message to them that they are not valued members of the community."

Fernando Fern·ndez, a plaintiff in the campaign, explained "that hopefully this campaign will get the attention of the city. If not, maybe we should invite the mayor to spend a day in a wheelchair. I'll be happy to lend him mine."

"The purpose of the campaign is to secure the rights of citizens with disabilities and provide to them the same broad opportunities that all citizens enjoy. For this reason, the San Antonio disability community and TCRP is seeking change at restaurants, recreational facilities, apartment complexes, government entities, and shopping centers," said Deborah Borrer-Simmons, also a plaintiff in the campaign, "Public Libraries are just that, public. Simply because I'm in a wheelchair does not remove me from being a member of the public," she said.

Last month, TCRP Director Jim Harrington sued the Greater Helotes Little League Complex for refusing the request of the father of two little leaguers for 14 months to firm up the gravel pathways to the ball fields so that he could use his wheelchair on them.

TCRP has successfully completed similar campaigns in Austin, Houston, Beaumont, Laredo, East Texas, and El Paso. TCRP is a nonprofit organization that promotes racial, social and economic justice through litigation and education.

For further information, please call or Jim Harrington at (512) 474-5073 or Julio Frausto at (210)-281-1878.

June 10, 2002

GREATER HELOTES LITTLE LEAGUE STRIKES OUT BADLY

LITTLE LEAGUER PARENT IN WHEEL CHAIR FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT FOR LONGSTANDING DENIAL OF ACCOMMODATION

The parent of two Little Leaguers went to federal court today so that he could watch his young son in the League playoffs. San Antonio resident Craig Wall had asked the Leagueís Board of Directors repeatedly for more than a year, since March 2001, to make the Helotes Little League Complex accessible so that he could attend games and watch his two young sons without placing himself at physical risk.

All that Craig Wall asked was that the gravel pathways be paved over or covered with a hard surface so that he could use his wheelchair to get to the baseball fields, restroom, and concession stand. He even offered to do the work for this accommodation himself, but the Board of Directors refused. The Complex has a bulldozer and dirt that it could use to compact the pathways for wheelchair use.

In fact, Board President, "Skeeter" Shofner told Plaintiff, who has had one leg amputated, that, if he had difficulty moving his wheelchair across the gravel, "You'll just have to get used to using your crutches." Because of the Leagueís refusal to make the gravel path accessible, Mr. Wall has had to resort to the use of crutches, despite the advice of his doctor that he not do so.

On May 18, 2002, Mr. Wallís crutches became entangled in fencing wire protruding from a fieldís dugout, causing him to fall and injure his shoulder, arm, elbow, and knee. Since the incident, Mr. Wall has begun physical therapy.

Besides having a leg amputated, Mr. Wall has arthropathy (a general degeneration of joints), degenerative disc disease, and degenerative root nerves from the spinal cord that cause pain and numbness, especially when exacerbated by the bouncing and jerking of traveling on gravel. He also has heart disease, which is exacerbated by over exertion of traveling through the gravel.

On June 1 of this year, the League compounded the problems by having its restrooms closed, and installing port-o-potties instead. Not one of the port-o-potties was accessible and in compliance with federal and state law.

Federal and state laws have both required, for more than ten years, that "ground surfaces along accessible routes ... shall be stable, firm, [and] slip-resistant ...." The Complex does not comply with this mandate, even though it could do so easily and very inexpensively.

Jim Harrington, Director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is handling the suit for Mr. Wall, calls the Board of Directors' refusal to comply with federal and state law "a callous disregard for people with disabilities, and a terrible example for the young people for whom they should be training to grow up to be law-respecting citizens. We regret we had to file the suit, but Congress passed the ADA just for this reason, that parents with disabilities could watch their kids play sports and without having to put themselves at physical risk. We hope this lawsuit will teach the Board of Directors to comply with the law and to set a much better law-abiding example than what they have shown to date."

The suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Texas disability laws, was filed today in federal court in San Antonio.

For further information: Craig Wall at 210-561-7980 or Jim Harrington at 512-474-5073.

TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT

PRESS RELEASE

March 5, 2002

TCRP Sues City Of Manor For Disability Law Violations

The Texas Civil Rights Project today filed suit on behalf of a Manor resident, Georgia James, and a local advocacy organization, the Economic Justice Foundation, based in Manor, claiming that the Manor City Hall, Municipal Court, and Police Station are inaccessible for persons with physical disabilities.

The suit, brought under federal and state disability laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lists nine separate deficiencies and obstacles to the City buildings that make them inaccessible for people with physical disabilities. Ms. James herself uses a wheelchair and is unable to access the buildings because of their lack of compliance with the disability laws.

The lawsuit was filed today in 345th State District Court of Travis County.

Both Ms. James and the Economic Justice Foundation have been working for more than a year to improve physical access both at city facilities and with respect to voting locations selected by Travis County for county elections.

Jim Harrington, representing the Plaintiffs and also TCRP Director, said it was "unfortunate that people still had to file lawsuits to make their municipalities accessible for all their citizens. The ADA has been in effect since 1990, and, twelve years later, the City of Manor still canít get its act together. Even before the ADA came into effect, the City had received federal funds and still did not use any of them to improve physical access, even thought the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 required that it do so."

TCRP has filed nearly 100 lawsuits around Texas in the last five years as part of a concerted effort to implement the ADA and make public and private buildings and services more accessible to people with disabilities.

For more information, please call Jim Harrington (512-474-5073).

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