Russell Handy Awarded Attorney of the Year 2010

          The President of the California State Bar presented Mr. Handy with his award in a ceremony on March 9, 2010, for his work the result in a unanimous decision from the California Supreme Court in Munson v. Del Taco.  The Center for Disability Access has long been at the forefront of disability civil rights litigation.  Mr. Handy won this distinguished award for his work on behalf of a disabled client who had filed suit against a prominent and national retailer under the American with Disabilities Act.  Mr. Handy won the case at the trial level and defended it in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Then Mr. Handy and his partner Mr. Potter appeared in front of the California Supreme Court and pulled down a unanimous victory.  It has had a “profound” impact on disability civil rights in California.

          Each year, the California Lawyer magazine determines who is their “Attorney of the Year.”  The magazine’s editorial advisory board is made up of prominent law firms, District Attorneys, Judges, the Special Counsel to the White House and the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.  To be named Attorney of the Year, an attorney must have “made a profound impact on the law” by either “changing the law, substantially influencing public policy or the profession, or achieving a remarkable victory for a client or for the public.”

          The award was presented to Mr. Handy because of his work in obtaining a key ruling in the case Munson v. Del Taco, where the California Supreme Court upheld the right of persons with disabilities to sue businesses who fail to provide accessible facilities without having to prove that the businesses intended to discriminate.  With this ruling, the California Supreme Court confirmed the continued viability of both the ADA and California’s disability civil rights statutes and the right of persons with disabilities to sue for damages under these laws.  It has been heralded as a tremendous victory for persons with disabilities.

          In fact, a growing number of courts have publicly recognized the great value in having persons with disabilities file these lawsuits.

          One federal court noted, “successful ADA plaintiffs confer a tremendous benefit upon our society at large” and their efforts are “an important part of the underlying policy behind the law.”   Walker v. Carnival Cruise Lines  (N.D. Cal. 2000) 107 F.Supp.2d 1135, 1143.  Another court recently noted: “most ADA suits are brought by a small number of private plaintiffs who view themselves as champions of the disabled.  For the ADA to yield its promise of equal access for the disabled, it may indeed be  necessary and desirable for committed individuals to bring serial litigation advancing the time when public accommodations will be compliant with the ADA.” Evergreen Dynasty Corp., (9th Cir. 2007) 500 F.3d 1047, 1062.   In fact, one court went so far as to claim, “Indeed, were it not for the efforts of those attorneys willing to undertake the representation of ADA plaintiffs, there would be little, if any, enforcement of this landmark statute.” Hansen v. Deercreek Plaza, LLC, 420 F.Supp.2d 1346, 1349 (S.D.Fla. 2006).  Courts have increasingly understood the frustration felt in the disabled community: “the reason there can be so many lawsuits about access to public accommodations is that there are so many violations of the laws that seek to assure access, and so many disabled people are thwarted from participating equally in the activities of everyday life.”  Evergreen Dynasty Corp.  (9th Cir. 2008) 521 F.3d 1215, 1220.

          In fact, as recently as August 28, 2008, the California legislature specifically found that despite the passage of federal and state disability laws, “persons with disabilities are still being denied full and equal access to public facilities in many instances.”  S.B. 1608 sec. 8299, now Cal. Gov’t Code § 8299.  The legislature went on to note, “there is so little, if any, public prosecution of access violations, that thus private enforcement efforts are central to the means by which these laws, like other civil rights laws, are designed to be enforced.”  S. B. 1608 Senate Bill Analysis at 4 (Aug. 28, 2008).

          In light of these recent pronouncements and rulings, the Center for Disability Access wants to remind its current clients, past clients and prospective clients about how very important private enforcement is to the continued success of the ADA.  The ADA has been the law for 20 years.  You do not have to suffer the indignity and frustration of facing illegal physical barriers or discriminatory policies.  Perhaps some of us were reluctant to haul a discriminatory business into court in years past.  Well, it has been two decades.  There should be no further hesitation in saying, “enough is enough.”  With the Center for Disability Access, you have a law firm that is ready and willing to investigate your complaints and to prosecute your cases with no cost to you and you will be represented by a firm that has earned the highest of respect and professional accolades within the legal community.

          Don’t hesitate to call or email us to discuss any concerns, issues, grievances, complaints, or other scenarios where you feel that your rights may have been infringed upon.

One thought on “Russell Handy Awarded Attorney of the Year 2010

  1. Brian Crawford and Sonja Crawford Reply

    We feel that we have an ADA claim against dishnet and would like to contact an attorney. Brian is blind. We had dishnet for a substantial time before we caneled and they required Brian get on the roof and remove the equipment and the eye of the dish, even though he told them it was installed by a technichian and no one had told him he would have to do that.

    We tried cable for a while and it kept going out so we hooked up with dishnet again. Direct TV said they couldn’t get a signal from our property. We signed up for the Everything package as we had before, because that was the only way to get the full sirus package, which is what Brian uses most besides listening to history and news. Brian had always wanted paper billing. That way he could keep control of what was taken out of his account. But he didn’t mind autopay as I am bipolar and little help in getting bills paid on time. Until they started changing the amount. Then they started online billing.

    Recently dishnet added a service to their Everything package, however they did not send their customers detailed information on how it worked, or what packages it was linked to. They just raised our bill by $10.00. When we received the bill we called and asked for assistance because we did not understand why our bill showed blockbuster. We were told that we could go there and order movies, that we were already paying for the service with our $10. and we could order 1 disk by mail besides. So Sonja did. She was also told she could return the disk to the local blockbuster for any at blockbuster location. When she did that she talked to the manager and he said the movie on the current hot list was fine. Sonja came home and continued to order movies through the blockbuster menu. Then she noticed the menu showed that two movies were set to show that were POD she called immediately and tried to cancel them. The person said that she would delete them. She said she would help Sonja put a block on Pay on Demand movies. Then if Sonja just ordered through the Blockbuster with the Everything package the rest should be covered. NOT SO. Later we noticed the bill was $191. or over so we called again. The person told us to put a block on all movies that charged when we did that we have two tv reciever it made the second tv useless. So that upset us. We requested all charges be dropped as it was an issue with the way they have the program set up and the training of their staff. The lack of information to the client that is tangible. We called again, and asked if the unit was broken not understanding it was the lock. So we went on line deleted all movies that were ordered to be sent through block buster and sent their movie disk back then unsubscribed and requested paperless billing be stopped and auto pay be stopped. We got a call saying we were going to be charged a late fee. Brian called and said that he had requested a paper bill that because of his being blind he needed to see what had been done on paper he could not see it on a computer that he perfers to send them a check because if they just start taking odd amounts out of his account and he is not aware of it he would have problems because he keeps track of his account balance in his head. He tried to explain to them he would pay them what he thought the contract had been set up for in the Everything package minus the two movies they would not delete and the late fee. He however didnot want the blockbuster. They did not explain that he would lose the musical pladia channel or other channels that are Everything package channels. The only reason he as a blind person had the service was for the musical channels. So he called again exatubated at that time and another person answered and offered blockbuster package for free for 3 months free when we asked when our contract is up and it is up 3/31/12. I said no, he said why not. We did tell her we planned to cancel April 1st. We unplugged our TV from the internet which should prevent further issues from people ordering blockbuster and us keeping our package. Why didn’t they say that. Because they have more control with us conected to broadband. We put a block on POD but it has not blocked the second tv so we can watch different channels on each tv. They try to insist that you have to have online billing. That is not true. It does not work for my husband. There has to be a way that he can control his account the way that he can best manage it without getting fustrated. They will not remove two movies that they claim were POD. We insist that all movies were ordered through the blockbuster system and that was told to us to be free and we should not owe it. We have also lost ESPNCL just before Daytona. The only sport my wife watch we are defeated in calling any further for fear of getting a longer contract, talking to more people who have accents we don’t understand, or getting more fustrated. It was interesting we said we would complete their cusomer service survey it never called back. Bummer.

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