Tim Fox Writes for the Civil Rights Insider

Co-Executive Director, Tim Fox, was invited by the Federal Bar Association’s Civil Rights Law Section to write an article for their newsletter, the Civil Rights Insider regarding the Fraihat v. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Case No. 5:19-cv-01546 (C.D. Cal). On August 19, CREEC and others filed this nationwide class-action lawsuit challenging abusive and horrific conditions of confinement at approximately 158 immigration detention centers across the country. Fraihat alleges violations of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and also alleges that the Department of Homeland Security and ICE have a long-standing pattern and practice of failing to adequately monitor and oversee immigration detention centers. The Federal Bar Association is dedicated to keeping its members informed about current federal issues. One avenue for this is through their quarterly newsletter, the Civil Rights Insider. You can read Tim’s article, “Civil Rights Groups Charge that ICE Disregards Immigrants’ Medical, Mental Health Needs and Ignores Discrimination Against Immigrants with Disabilities” in-full on page four of the Fall 2019 issue of the Civil Rights Insider. To read more about Fraihat v ICE, visit our case...

CREEC Files Amicus Brief in Support of Voting Rights

Last Wednesday, CREEC teamed up with a huge and amazing group of civil rights and disability rights advocates to file an amicus brief in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to help uphold the rights of people with disabilities to vote privately and independently. The case originated in Maryland, when the National Federation of the Blind and several other plaintiffs went up against the Maryland State Board of Elections to protest the process of voting via absentee ballot. The plaintiffs alleged that defendants violated the Americans with Disabilities and the Rehabilitation Act by denying Maryland voters with disabilities the same opportunities to vote privately and independently that nondisabled voters enjoyed.  Under the challenged process, Blind voters have to print out absentee ballots, have someone else mark them, and then submit them. This process is not only cumbersome, but impossible for a blind voter to achieve while maintaining their independence and the privacy of their vote.  An existing (but not officially certified) online ballot marking tool would solve the problem, enabling blind voters to complete the entire process using screen readers or other accessible technology.   The Maryland district court held that the Board was violating the ADA and Rehab Act, and ordered the Board to make the online ballot marking tool available to voters with disabilities in the November 2014 general election. After allowing the online marking tool to be used during the 2014 election, the Board of Elections appealed the original decision. They argued that the voting system “as a whole” was accessible because votes with disabilities could vote in person at a number of different locations, and that therefore...

Either Title III needs damages or we need to change the law of standing*

Claudia Adkins was deaf and blind, and was — because of this — denied service at and turned away from the Summit View of Farragut nursing home in Knoxville, TN.   “Turned away” in this case is not a metaphor or legal/poetic license.   She was transported from the hospital to Summit View in an ambulance and they turned her away and sent her back to the hospital because she was deaf and blind. Summit View did not accept Adkins for admission to the facility because it would have been unable to communicate with her, given her condition and its inability to obtain an interpreter. To this end, Summit View’s Medical Director at that time, Dr. Bonita Gonzalez (“Dr.Gonzalez”), was present when Adkins arrived and determined that she needed to be returned to UT Medical Center because “her needs could not be met at Summit View due to her conditions” Southwell v. Summit View of Farragut, LLC, 2013 WL 6061332, at *1 (E.D. Tenn. Nov. 18, 2013).   Ms. Adkins died of cancer 10 months later in Florida. Ms. Adkins’s daughter sued in state court in Tennessee for medical malpractice and wrongful death.   Summit View removed to federal court, argued that the claims should be construed under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that that statute “did not provide any vehicle for relief.”   Southwell v. Summit View of Farragut, LLC, 494 Fed. App’x 508, 510 (6th Cir. 2012). “[D]id not provide any vehicle for relief” means that because Title III has only an injunctive remedy and no damages, 42 U.S.C. § 12188(a), discriminators can...