International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Year V, Edition 992

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 36 more news items.

"I want people to know that Aiden Stein has a right to live and that he has a chance to live."

--Janet Roberts, a registered nurse who has offered to take the 10-month-old boy, who relies on a ventilator, into her home (Third story)

"We're still 100 percent committed to the proposition that the courthouses in this state should be made accessible."
--William Brown, an attorney representing people with disabilities in a suit claiming Tennessee failed to make its courthouses accessible. A federal judge last week denied class action status to the case, which had worked its way up to the U.S. Supreme Court (First story)



Class Action Status Denied In Tennessee Courthouse Case

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 24, 2004

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE--A federal judge last week denied class action status to Lane v. Tennessee, ruling that individuals would have to file separately if they want to sue over access problems at county courthouses.

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell said on August 17 that the six plaintiffs cannot represent the estimated 250,000 Tennesseans that might have grievances with courthouses.

In his ruling, Campbell wrote that the question of whether defendant counties complied with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act "is a courthouse-by-courthouse basis."

"Even if the issue of liability were common to all defendants, the issue of injunctive relief would be different," he said.

The Associated Press reported that the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, William Brown, was not overly concerned about the decision.

''Everything is on the table," he said.

"It doesn't say George Lane and the other five plaintiffs can't bring these claims in their own name," Brown said of Campbell's decision. "We're still 100 percent committed to the proposition that the courthouses in this state should be made accessible."

Thomas Donnell Jr., attorney for 14 of the 25 counties named in the suit, said he and his clients were "obviously very pleased".

George Lane, an amputee who uses a wheelchair, is suing the state for $100,000 for violating his federal right to equal access to Polk County Courthouse. He had been arrested in 1996 for failing to appear in a second-floor courtroom for a pre-trial hearing on misdemeanor traffic charges. Lane was charged with failure to appear after refusing to crawl up the stairs or to be carried by court employees.

Beverly Jones, a court reporter who uses a wheelchair, joined the suit, claiming that the state's failure to make county courthouses accessible created a hardship and limited the jobs available to her. Jones said she was unable to enter four county courthouses where lawyers had hired her to record court proceedings. She listed another 19 Tennessee counties with inaccessible courthouses.

Four other people with similar complaints joined the suit.

The state challenged the legality of Lane's suit, claiming that Congress overstepped its Constitutional bounds by allowing people to sue states for monetary damages.

On May 17 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court found that states must follow Title II of the ADA -- which guarantees access to public facilities and services -- when it comes to the courts, or face potential lawsuits from individuals. The Court sent the case back to Tennessee.

Lane v. Tennessee is set for trial beginning March 15 of next year.

"High Court Upholds Access To State Courts: State of Tennessee v. Lane et al" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Court Orders Laguna Honda To Take Back Man Who Allegedly Ordered Gang "Hit"

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 24, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--An administrative court has ordered the city to return a young man accused of enlisting gang associates to beat up a fellow resident at Laguna Honda Hospital, the San Francisco Examiner reported last week.

Shabaz Glenn, 25, became quadriplegic following a 1998 car accident. He and several young patients had been transferred in recent months to the city-operated nursing facility because of overcrowding at San Francisco General Hospital.

Glenn was transferred back to San Francisco General in May after Laguna Honda officials said he called gang members to come to the nursing home and assault an older resident in a dispute over a television remote.

While police did find Glenn in possession of two bags of marijuana, they did not find evidence that he ordered the assault.

Glenn's mother, Shonna Glenn-Earls, successfully appealed her son's removal from Laguna Honda. The administrative court found that San Francisco officials failed to properly issue written transfer and discharge notices to Glenn, and failed to follow guidelines regarding refusal-to-readmit provisions of the law.

Glenn remains at San Francisco General while the city's Department of Public Health appeals the decision. The city is also trying to find an accessible apartment for him.

Health officials, medical professionals and staff members at Laguna Honda have been growing increasingly concerned over the safety of its residents.

Earlier this year, Mitch Katz, director of the Department of Public Health, asked the nursing home to give priority to patients with long-term medical needs from SF General rather than seniors from the community. Many of those patients, some of which have histories of violence and repeat offenses, are under age 60.

Laguna Honda has been the focus of protests and lawsuits by disability rights advocates for the last several years.

Earlier this month, U.S. Department of Justice found that the State of California is violating federal law by needlessly segregating people with disabilities in the nursing facility.

The 135-year-old Laguna Honda Hospital is the oldest nursing facility in California. With 1,200 beds, it is the largest publicly-owned nursing home in the United States.

"Laguna Honda Hospital -- Largest Nursing Home In US" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Parents Support Letting Nurse Take Aiden Home; Authorities Resist Plan

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 24, 2004

AKRON, OHIO--A registered nurse, with a solid track record of helping children with severe disabilities, has offered to take 10-month-old Aiden Stein into her home.

But county authorities would rather the child stay at the hospital -- where doctors have argued it would be best for him to die.

Bellville resident Janet Roberts has a history of caring for children with disabilities placed with her through Richland County Children Services. She adopted one daughter with severe brain damage and a second daughter who uses trachea and feeding tubes. She has 24-hour nursing care available and is able to operate a ventilator and other equipment during power outages.

"He cannot be executed simply because he is a handicapped child," Roberts told the Mansfield News Journal. "I want people to know that Aiden Stein has a right to live and that he has a chance to live."

Aiden has been in a coma since March 15, from what doctors say is shaken baby syndrome, allegedly caused by his father. The infant will die if his ventilator is removed, doctors predict.

Authorities at Akron Children's Hospital requested he be taken off life support, and said that his parents, Matt Stein and Arica Heimlich, have a conflict of interest in wanting Aiden kept alive, because the father could face criminal charges if he dies.

A guardian appointed to represent Aiden agreed that his ventilator should be removed.

Aiden's parents have challenged the appointment of a guardian for their son, claiming that their parental rights were violated. Neither parent has been charged with a crime in Aiden's injury.

The Ohio Supreme Court is expected to decide on the case soon.

In the meantime, a local court is expected to hear Roberts' request later this week.

Aiden's parents live near the same town as Roberts and want their boy to live with her.

But Richland County Children Services Executive Director Randy Parker said his agency does not support the idea of Roberts taking the baby home.

"We don't feel that a home setting is appropriate for him," Parker said. "He just requires too much medical treatment; it's above and beyond what any single person can handle.

"He's in the process of dying."

An attorney representing the parents said they believe Aiden responds to human stimulation and that he would have a better chance living with people who love him rather than in the hospital where doctors expect him to die.

"New home for Aiden?" (Mansfield News Journal)
"Parties await high court's decision" (Akron Beacon Journal)



Alberg Receives Probation Over Ricin Scare

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 24, 2004

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--On August 11, Robert M. Alberg pleaded guilty in federal court to possessing the deadly toxin ricin.

As part of a plea bargain, Alberg, a singer/songwriter who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and depression, agreed to five years probation, continued mental-health treatment, and placement in a group home.

A seed company in New York tipped off the federal law enforcement agency last November, when Alberg ordered 4.7 pounds of castor seeds, a main ingredient for making the toxin. Ricin can kill if even small amounts are eaten, injected or inhaled. It has no known antidote.

On April 9, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force raided Alberg's apartment and found enough of the poison to kill about 200 people. Several jars in his apartment were labeled "caution ricin poison."

Federal authorities said there was no evidence that Alberg had any specific plans to use the toxin to harm anyone.

Alberg's father, Tom, a well-known venture capitalist, told investigators that he became worried after receiving several emails from his son in which he described making poison and wanting to be on "Federal Death Row".

In a statement released at the time of Robert Alberg's sentencing, his father said, "We fully support the agreement, which ensures Robert will receive treatment for his medical condition."

Alberg is not believed to have any connection to a February incident, in which ricin was found in the office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, in Washington, DC. No one was hurt and no suspect has been identified.



"Hiring Disabled Workers Proves Wise Decision For South Florida Employers"

August 24, 2004

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Monday's South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

The Wendy's restaurant in West Palm Beach has one of the fastest drive-through windows in the county, owner Bob Morden says. The reason: Samuel Cambridge of West Palm Beach, a highly motivated, stocky 42-year-old who looks like former boxing star Marvin Hagler.

Cambridge is also blind. He lost his sight to glaucoma in 1985.

Out of Morden's 34 employees, almost one-third, from teens to workers in their 50s, are disabled: visually impaired, developmentally disabled, afflicted with traumatic brain injuries. One worker is missing an arm. All of them have been with him at least five years.

"This is why I consider it a smart, long-term business investment," Morden said.

Other small businesses too are discovering the labor market's great secret: There are thousands of disabled workers waiting to become loyal, productive employees.

Entire article:
"Hiring disabled workers proves wise decision for S. Florida employers" (Sun-Sentinel)
"Hiring the disabled" (Sun-Sentinel)



"Inclusive Education Stories and Strategies for Success" Prepared by Heather Raymond, M.Ed

The stories in this document, that reflect children, do not include the child's label. This has been intentional. Children are children and must be seen this way. The child's perceived disability is only one component of who they are. However, as the author of this document, I know for others a child's label is important to picture who we are talking about.

The students in these stories are individuals who have Down Syndrome, Autism, multiple handicaps, use wheelchairs to get around, need support to meet their physical needs, are medically fragile, have several behavior difficulties, and are visually and hearing impaired.


# EXTRA! From the IDE Archives -- Four years ago:

Activists Occupy State Office
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 24, 2000

DENVER, COLORADO--Dozens of disability rights activists took over the floor of a state office building for seven hours yesterday, in a successful attempt to get a meeting with the state's Human Services director to discuss independent living.

The group showed up about 11:30 a.m. at the 8th floor office of Human Services Director Marva Hammons, and started banging on their wheelchairs and chanting "Marva, where are you?". The group demanded to meet with Hammons about funding for the state's 10 independent living centers.

Clients and staff of the ILCs, which help people with disabilities live on their own instead of in nursing homes, believe the state has shortchanged them by about $20,000. According to one protester, the advocates have been trying for months to talk with Hammons about the shortfall, but were told that she does not have time.

Officers from the Denver Police Department, the Denver Sheriff's Department and the Colorado State Patrol were called in when the protesters started blocking elevators and stairwells. Law enforcement officers soon left, after Human Services officials declined to have the demonstrators arrested.

Hammons was unable to meet with the group yesterday, because she was on a plane flying back from a conference in Alaska. She called her office upon landing at Denver International Airport about 6 p.m., and was informed of the situation. She then had her staff schedule a meeting with the group for Friday.

"We're leaving," Joe Ehman, one of the protesters, told the Rocky Mountain News after nearly seven hours of chanting. "It was a success. It was worthwhile. A bunch of people just have to get their voices back."


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