CREEC Announces Immigration Detention Accountability Project

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is pleased to announce the launch of the CREEC Immigration Detention Accountability Project and the appointment of Elizabeth Jordan as Director of the Project. The Immigration Detention Accountability Project will focus on three major areas: Impact litigation challenging the conditions of confinement in immigration detention centers; Impact litigation challenging discrimination against detained immigrants with disabilities; and Education and outreach on detention conditions and treatment of immigrants with disabilities. The Project will also provide pro bono direct representation of detained immigrants — in immigration and federal court — in support of these three goals.   Liz Jordan joined CREEC as our first CREEC Fellow in June, 2017, proposing a project to challenge conditions in immigration detention facilities.  Since that time, Liz and other CREEC lawyers and paralegals: have partnered with major national civil rights and immigration nonprofits to file a class action against President Trump and Attorney General Sessions challenging conditions of detained immigrants at Victorville federal medium security prison; are currently working on several other impact cases; have represented several individual detained immigrants; have spoken widely on each of these topics; and have prepared and circulated educational materials on the rights of detained immigrants with disabilities. Based on the success of Liz’s fellowship project, we decided to create a permanent Immigration Detention Accountability Project. The Project joins — and complements — CREEC’s ongoing education and litigation projects challenging discrimination in government, prisons and jails, public accommodations, housing, and other arenas.         The Project’s website can be found by clicking here, please check up on that site for Project and case related updates...

Frederick Couple Files Suit Challenging Developer’s Refusal to Accommodate Wheelchair in Unbuilt Home Plan

Family alleges refusal violated the Fair Housing Act. DENVER, August 6, 2018 – Nina and Robert Lindstrom had been planning for years to move from Alabama to Colorado to be closer to Nina’s daughter and their grandchildren. While preparing for the move, however, Nina Lindstrom fell and injured her spine. She now cannot walk and uses a power wheelchair for mobility. After the accident and months of intense rehabilitation, the Lindstroms were finally able to move to Colorado. Their house hunting process led them to the Autumn Valley Ranch community in Dacono developed by Century Communities, Inc. (“CCI”). Autumn Valley Ranch was ideal both because it was near family and because construction on the homes had not yet commenced, giving the Lindstroms — or so they thought — the opportunity to adjust the floorplan to be accessible to Ms. Lindstrom. When they initially met with a CCI sales representative and explained the modest adjustments they’d need — wider doors; level entrances — he appeared willing to implement the requested changes. (Though not obligated to do so, the Lindstroms offered to pay any difference in construction costs.) The following day, however, the CCI representative informed the Lindstroms’ Realtor that he had checked with CCI’s Vice President of Construction and Division President, and CCI would not be willing to make any accommodations in the floorplan. To be clear, at the point when CCI refused to make the Lindstroms’ accommodations, the “home” consisted of a patch of dirt and some drawings. The Lindstroms continued their home search, eventually purchasing an existing house that required extensive renovations before Ms. Lindstrom could use it,...

News Release: Major milestone reached in making Portland’s streets and sidewalks more accessible

(June 5, 2018) The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced a major milestone in the City’s efforts to make Portland’s streets and sidewalks more accessible to people with mobility disabilities. Yesterday, United States District Court Judge Marco Hernandez issued a preliminary approval of the settlement in Hines, et al. v. City of Portland. The class action seeks to ensure that the City’s corners are ADA compliant. The City of Portland has over 38,000 corners. Approximately 11,000 corners do not have curb ramps. Many other corners have ramps that do not meet current ADA standards.  Corners that do not have ADA compliant curb ramps represent a significant barrier to safe and convenient mobility for people with mobility disabilities. This landmark settlement will take a major step forward in correcting this situation. According to the settlement’s terms, the City of Portland has agreed to construct and/or upgrade 1500 curb ramps per year for the next twelve years for a total of 18,000 ramps. The City has also agreed to survey all ramps in the next two years and establish a Transition Plan to map out how the City will ensure accessibility. “We have nearly 40,000 corners in Portland,” said Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Each corner is an opportunity. With the correct curb ramps, each of these corners represents a chance for our city to provide safe and accessible mobility to for all Portlanders regardless of whether they are living with a disability or not. That is why I am so supportive of this settlement. Thanks to this settlement, we will double the number of ADA compliant curb ramps we build each year...

CREEC and SPLC Send Letter Urging Etowah County Officials to Make Outdoor Recreation Available to ICE Detainees As Part of Jail Renovations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, March 8, 2018 Civil Rights Groups Urge Etowah County Commission and Sheriff to Include Outdoor Recreation Access in Detention Center Renovations Holding detained immigrants inside for months, even years without access to fresh air and sunlight may violate their constitutional rights GADSDEN, Ala. — The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter today to the Etowah County Commission and Etowah County Sheriff, urging officials to include outdoor recreation for immigration detainees in renovation plans for the Etowah County Detention Center (ECDC). The ECDC, located in Gadsden, Alabama, holds about 300 detained immigrants under a contract with the U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. The existing facility does not provide detainees with access to outdoor recreation, which means that some detainees spend months, or even years, without going outside. Etowah County is considering renovations to the ECDC, but the plans do not appear to include outdoor recreational space. The lack of outdoor recreational space implicates the due process rights of detainees under the U.S. Constitution, the letter says. “Not only do immigrants detained by ICE have a constitutional right to outdoor recreation while they are held at ECDC, access to physical activity, sunlight, and fresh air is crucial to their well-being,” Tim Fox, co-executive director of CREEC, said. “There is no reason the sheriff and the county cannot make outdoor recreation available to ICE detainees as part of their other changes to the facility.” ICE’s own Performance Based National Detention Standards state that facilities should provide at least one hour, and preferably at least...

ADA Defense Abuse: A Case Study

ADA Defense Lawyers Prolong Litigation and Postpone Access:  A Case Study of Litigation Abuse  Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination by private businesses.  Lawyers who defend noncompliant businesses argue that their opposing counsel — lawyers who represent people with disabilities seeking to enforce their rights — engage in litigation abuse.  They are lobbying for passage of H.R. 620, a bill that would add the requirement of a specifically-worded demand letter and four-month waiting period before a disabled person could enforce their rights. This case study of ADA defense litigation abuse suggests that ADA defense counsel are already guilty of prolonging litigation, postponing access, and ultimately enriching themselves at the expense of both the businesses they represent and the people with disabilities who continue to be denied access 28 years after the ADA was passed. H.R. 620’s requirement of a demand letter will remove any incentive for voluntary compliance and will add a new round of motions for ADA defense attorneys to file — challenging the wording, content, and specificity of the demand letter — on top of the already unconscionable litigation delay that is their standard practice. To demonstrate the opportunities for delay in which ADA defense counsel typically engage, we looked at a case that a group of retail trade associations held up as a typical Title III case.  In a recent amicus brief to the Third Circuit, lawyers for the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association, and the Food Marketing Institute singled out the case of Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., No. 14-cv-1455 (W.D. Pa....

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans Class action settlement provides for captioning on LED boards at non-concert events. DENVER January 25, 2018 – Kirstin Kurlander and Kroenke Arena Company are pleased to announce that the Pepsi Center will start providing open captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing sports fans beginning this fall. The Pepsi Center — a roughly 18,000-seat arena in downtown Denver — is home to the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and Colorado Mammoth.  Starting with the first preseason Avalanche game in October of this year, the Pepsi Center will caption all of the information spoken over the public address system on LED ribbon boards mounted on the front of the third level at the four corners of the arena. Ms. Kurlander, a deaf woman and Mammoth season-ticket holder, filed a class action lawsuit against the company that owns and operates the Pepsi Center in 2016, after informally requesting captions at the arena.  The Pepsi Center began providing captions on handheld devices — smartphones or tablets — in late 2016, and has been working with Ms. Kurlander and her attorneys at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) on a solution that provides open captioning that is generally visible throughout the arena.  The parties reached agreement at the end of last year and Judge Wiley Y. Daniel granted preliminary approval on January 9, 2018. “I am very pleased that the Pepsi Center will provide captioning and I look forward to attending lacrosse and other games there with full access to the information broadcast in the arena,” said Ms....