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Friday, March 29, 2013

Disability in the News

Two stories of interest this past week.  In the first, Jose Martinez, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, was awarded $8,000 in damages from Disneyland.  He had been riding “It’s A Small World,” and when the ride broke down, he had to remain in his boat on the ride for over 30 minutes (with music blaring)while park officials repaired the ride.  Mr. Martinez was represented in part by the Disability Rights Legal Center here at Loyola Law School Los Angeles.  Although he lost his claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failure to have an adequate emergency preparedness plan, the court found that Disney knew that a rider with a disability might get trapped on the ride. Therefore, they had a duty to warn.

 Following up on the disastrous state of emergency preparedness for people with disabilities in Hurricane Katrina, Michael Stein and I wrote this short piece discussing how lawsuits were an inadequate tool for reform in this area, mostly because they by definition happen too late after harm has already occurred.  This is the rare case where plaintiffs actually recover something, and while I am hopeful that Disney changes its policy and serves as an example for places of public accommodation to think about these issues, I fear that Disney can weather $8000 and a few days of minor bad publicity.  More recently, this has been an area of legal reform, with disability rights organizations pushing state and local governments to consider people with disabilities in their emergency preparedness efforts. 

Second, the Boston Globe had an insightful piece on the failure of the Senate to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  I have previously taken up space in the blogosphere with my views on why the US should ratify.  The Globe article uses the issue as part of the larger story on gridlock and partisanship. If with Republican support and leadership, the Senate could not agree to a treaty that protects the rights of some of the world’s most vulnerable citizens, in an area where the United States has typically put politics aside and been a worldwide leader, there is little chance they will get anything accomplished.  A sobering read indeed.

Next week, I hope to comment on This American Life's report on disability fraud, which has created quite the brouhaha.  In the meantime, have a great weekend! 

Posted by Michael Waterstone on March 29, 2013 at 03:59 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Given that the treaty would be non self executing, its only real world effect would be that we would be the subject of periodic, nagging UN reports drafted by a mid level functionary cum scold. re: home schooling: rightly opponents of the UN are sorta crazy and paranoid, but that doesn't mean the various rapporteurs don't have serious mission creep.

Posted by: jpe | Mar 31, 2013 8:05:47 AM

An entirely unpersuasive rebuttal from media matters. Do they really believe its hard to find a qualified medical professional who will sign off on a disability claim for an impoverished child?

Posted by: An | Mar 31, 2013 2:56:38 PM

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