Author Topic: Greedy disability lawyers here?  (Read 1541 times)

TimRegency

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Greedy disability lawyers here?
« on: 18 Apr 2012 03:58PM »
I found this quite hard to understand, especially what the author is getting at. I hope it's not about using a few bad things in America as an excuse to do away with what little Human Rights protection we already have here. See what you think:

http://ukhumanrightsblog.com/2012/04/17/disability-lawyers-chewing-at-the-big-apples-core/

devine63

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Re: Greedy disability lawyers here?
« Reply #1 on: 19 Apr 2012 02:57AM »
Hi Tim

as far as I can see they are talking about a new form of what is usually called "ambulance chasing".... in this case the lawyers identify a building or place which is in some way physically inaccessible and then they look for clients who might be willing to work with them to sue the building owners / managers.  This is somewhat unethical - especially where they deliberately find someone disabled to act as the client and deliberately send him/her to the building so as to create a case for them to sue.
regards, Deb

TimRegency

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Re: Greedy disability lawyers here?
« Reply #2 on: 19 Apr 2012 01:25PM »
Hi Deb,

I agree; where I was struggling was with how it is comparable to the UK, with the Equality Act, for example. It seemed invalid to me. Also I was not sure where the author was taking her argument, whether she was suggesting that we do away with existing legislation or replace it with something better, or both.

WheeledTraveler

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Re: Greedy disability lawyers here?
« Reply #3 on: 19 Apr 2012 02:54PM »
The way things work in the US is that the only way to actually enforce the ADA in most cases is to sue. There is no mediation process for businesses, although there may exist in some places mediation processes for housing and education.

The number of even newly built or heavily renovated places that claim that they didn't know they had to be accessible, is high, even though the ADA was signed into legislation in 1990. As part of the ADA, existing buildings or businesses which were not accessible were supposed to put together plans to either become accessible by I think 2005 or showing why it was unfeasible. Certainly as of 1991, any new build or heavily re-modified building needed to be accessible, however, many places claim even today they didn't know they needed to be accessible. I was even in a hotel last summer that didn't realize that it's accessible rooms needed to have bars around the toilet and that's a relatively easy modification!

Plenty of places, also, know they're supposed to be accessible, but aren't going to do anything until their sued. This is why I've been on the edge of suing my town to make the library accessible for several years. If I had the spoons, I'd already have done so, in fact. They've had written reports for over 15 years stating that they need to become accessible for someone sues, but it hasn't happened. The excuse is cost, but really it's something where the cost was turned into a political issue and legal responsibility has been ignored.

I don't really see lawyers generally setting disabled folks on to suing small businesses. There's very little room for any profit because there's a very low cap on how much compensation can be given in ADA violation cases. Also, when I've seen information about so-called repeat suers, often they're suing over relatively small and inexpensive violations (like not having lowered counters) where it would be fairly inexpensive to just make the change rather than fighting the lawsuit. I also don't buy the idea that 20+ years after the ADA went into effect, any business doesn't know that it needs to be accessible and that things like having a lowered counter is part of that. If you don't know that, then you failed to look at what you were legally responsible to do. While I can understand why this article sees a possible ethical issue, the reality is that this is not as common as is implied and I, personally, have a far bigger ethical issue with places claiming they didn't know they needed to be accessible when it's been the law for over 20 years (which has been my experience in many places when I've made a complaint).

Personally, I see articles like this one as ablist and anti-ADA enforcement. Maybe that's not what the author meant, but it seemed to me that she was arguing more for people to not sue and less for legislation to be changed so that there were other ways of enforcement. I may be reading into it wrong due to where I see general opinions in the US, but there's a lot of anti-ADA sentiment still and quite a bit of work happening to undermine parts of it.

TimRegency

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Re: Greedy disability lawyers here?
« Reply #4 on: 19 Apr 2012 03:43PM »
Thanks, WT, I got a similar feeling. These things are often vaguely expressed and dressed up as a virtue after some imaginary monster. There's a 'comments' section at the bottom of the post if you decide to put right some of the incorrect things said.