ADA in the News April 9, 2019

Why Are More Digital Accessibility Suits Being Filed as Class Actions (And What Does It Mean?)


One of the most surprising legal developments in 2018 on the digital accessibility front was the dramatic rise in the number of cases filed as class actions. With large numbers of cases filed as class actions in Florida and New York, they now account for over half of all digital accessibility lawsuits.

But why are more cases being filed as class actions, and what does it mean for the organizations sued?

To find out, Level Access turned to leading legal practitioners in digital accessibility.

Woman alleges East Grand Forks violated ADA

Grand Forks Herald

A Grand Forks County woman is suing the city of East Grand Forks for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by rescinding a job offer it made in 2016.

Jodie Hasbrouck-Wagner had been offered a position as a jailer and administrative assistant for the East Grand Forks Police Department, on the condition she successfully complete a background check.

Two weeks later, Police Chief Michael Hedlund sent Wagner a letter rescinding his offer due to a "red flag" in her background report, according to Wagner's complaint. Wagner and her attorneys allege that red flag was Wagner's disability. According to her complaint, Wagner has diagnosed depression.

The complaint also mentions an incident that occurred nearly 13 years ago when current City Attorney Ron Galstad fired Wagner from his private law office.

Wagner's complaint said that, in 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission completed an investigation on her situation and found "reasonable cause" to believe the city discriminated against Wagner for her disability. East Grand Forks denied this accusation in an official answer to Wagner's complaint the city filed in November.

It took a lawsuit, but Utah legislators agree to pay millions to transition intellectually disabled adults into their own housing

Salt Lake Tribune

In coming years, scores of developmentally and intellectually disabled adults in Utah could move from institutional housing to community settings that offer them new freedom and independence.

The state has agreed to transition 250 individuals out of care facilities over the next five years as part of settling a lawsuitthat accused Utah of “unlawful institutionalization and segregation” of disabled adults.

It’s a change that will be expensive for the state — with estimated costs of $7 million in the first year and even more afterward — some of that to provide rental assistance and skilled nursing services to individuals who choose to live on their own.

“I hope that at least it really does make things better for some folks,” said Rep. Ray Ward, who in the recent legislative session sponsored a resolution to approve the settlement agreement.

The lawsuit was filed early last year by Utah’s Disability Law Center and two adults who said they wanted to live in community settings but instead were stuck in care facilities that limited their privacy and their ability to do simple things like date or go to the movies.

But the average wait time is more than six years, and once a person is placed in an institution, he or she becomes a low priority to move into a different living situation, essentially making it impossible to get out of the intermediate facilities, the lawsuit states.

It's hard getting to class when you have a chronic illness. UT's limited accommodations don’t help

UT The Daily Texan

The pain Samantha Miles experiences on daily basis is often rated worse than childbirth. From sleeping to digestion, no part of her day is free from pain.

Miles, a communication and leadership freshman, was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome five years ago, and her experience at UT has differed greatly from the average student. Like other students with chronic illnesses, UT’s limited accessibility accommodations affect Miles’ ability to go to and participate in class.

For people living with a chronic illness, a 30-minute nap doesn't have the same rejuvenating effect on the body as someone living without a chronic illness.

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