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The latest from NDRN's Amicus Activity...  

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title I Employment)

Jacobs v. North Carolina Administrative Office of Courts (4th Cir. 2015)

Fourth Circuit holds that a district court erred by dismissing a claim (on summary judgment) against a public-sector employer that fired an employee with social anxiety disorder instead of assigning her away from public-oriented, customer service duties.

Amicus explained broad changes broad by Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act (ADAAA) and that social anxiety disorder could be a disability under the ADAAA and that episodic disabilities are covered under the ADAAA

Favorable Decision in Jacobs v. N.C. Administrative Office of Courts

Reyazuddin v. Montgomery County Maryland (4th Cir. 2014)

Blind county employee was denied transfer to new call center when county purchased software that was not accessible. Rehab Act case & ADA Title II claims.

Amicus focuses on harm inaccessible software has on employment of persons with disabilities and the need to procure accessible or adaptable technology.

Largely favorable June 15, 2015 Decision in Reyazuddin v. Montgomery County, Maryland 

Stephenson v. Pfizer (4th Cir. 2015)

Pharmaceutical company sales representative developed vision loss and was no longer able to drive. Sales representatives were provided company cars and typically drove themselves to physician’s offices where they provided information about the company’s products. Employer contended that driving was an essential job function and district court agreed. Plaintiff is represented by private counsel.  The North Carolina P&A authored an amicus on its behalf and on behalf of NDRN and the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA) in support of plaintiff to educate the court that a central tenant of the ADA is that an individual with a disability may need to perform his or her job in a way that is different from the way the job is performed by others. Thus any analysis of essential job functions should focus on the function, which was travelling to physicians’ offices and providing information about the company’s products, and not how that travelling was accomplished. 

Disability Rights North Carolina, NDRN & NELA Amicus Brief.

EEOC also filed an amicus in support of plaintiff arguing that reasonable minds could differ as to whether the employer could have provided a reasonable accommodation that would have allowed plaintiff to continue working as a pharmaceutical company representative.

EEOC Amicus brief.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA Title II & III)

Disability Rights Wisconsin v. University of Wisconsin Hospitals & Clinics  (Wisc. Sup. Ct. 2015)  

Suit brought by Wisconsin P&A alleging withholding or withdrawing of medical treatment for individuals with disabilities by state employee doctors as state funded hospital violates state Due Process Clause Requirements. Appeal to Wisconsin Supreme Court seeking certiorari. 

Amicus argues that public policy considerations against euthanasia dictate that physicians not be permitted to cease life-sustaining treatment to incompetent people and children in state care who are not in a persistent vegetative state 

City & County of San Francisco v. Sheehan (Supreme Court 2015)

Issue(s) AS DESCRIBED BY THE COURT: (1) Whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires law enforcement officers to provide accommodations to an armed, violent, and mentally ill suspect in the course of bringing the suspect into custody; and (2) whether it was clearly established that even where an exception to the warrant requirement applied, an entry into a residence could be unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment by reason of the anticipated resistance of an armed and violent suspect within. 

Amicus urges that it is well settled that the ADA applies to arrests and that individuals with a range of disabilities need a range of disability accommodations from police agencies when police respond to a call to avoid tragic consequences. 

May 18, 2015 Decision decides the issue of whether ADA applies to police interactions with individuals with disabilities was “Improvidently Granted.”

Americans with Disabilities Act – Community Integration (Olmstead)

Forziano v., Independent Group Home Living (2d Cir. 2014)

Group home refusal to allow married couple with developmental disabilities to live as couple in their facility. 

Amicus educates the Court about people with intellectual disabilities being subject to pervasive discrimination in the area of sexuality and marriage. 

Unreported, non-precedential May 26, 2015 decision finds no basis for granting injunction and no violation of ADA or Rehabilitation Act

Thorpe v. District of Columbia  (D.C. Cir. 2015)

Class action suit on behalf of nursing home residents seeking transition into community residences. Defendant District of Columbia moved to decertify class based

on Supreme Court decision in Wal-Mart v. Dukes.   

Amicus supports certification of class in case involving common questions affecting class members.

Favorable Decision June 26, 2015 upholds class certification

Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

Reyazuddin v. Montgomery County Maryland (4th Cir. 2014)

Blind county employee denied transfer to new call center when county purchased software that was not accessible. Rehab Act case & ADA Title II claima.

Amicus focuses on harm inaccessible software has on employment of persons with disabilities and the need to procure accessible or adaptable technology.

Largely favorable June 15, 2015 Decision in Reyazuddin v. Montgomery County, Maryland

Attorney fees and federal fee-shifting statutes

Criminal Justice

Hall v. Florida (U. S. Supreme Court 2014) Amicus. Supreme Court decision May 27, 2014.

Court Held that Florida's threshold requirement, as interpreted by the Florida Supreme Court, that defendants show an IQ test score of 70 or below before being permitted to submit additional intellectual disability evidence is unconstitutional because it creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disabilities will be executed. 

Disparate Impact

Texas Dept of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, #13-1371, U.S. Supreme Court (appealed from the 5th Cir.).

Issue was were disparate-impact claims cognizable under the Fair Housing Act?

Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act Amendment (FHAA) in 1988 to prohibit discrimination because of disability and familial status, and to end the segregation and further the integration of people with disabilities and families with children. For the law to fulfill its stated purposes, it must recognize claims based on discriminatory effects.  FHA prohibits housing practices that result in unjustified adverse discriminatory effects, including neutral policies that lead to segregation or have a disparate adverse impact on a protected class.

A non-profit organization brought a housing-discrimination action against Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, alleging its allocation of low income housing tax credits resulted in a disparate impact on African–American residents under FHA. U.S. District Court granted partial summary judgment to plaintiff; after a bench trial found discriminatory impact; and adopted a remedial plan and awarded attorney's fees to plaintiff. The Fifth Circuit affirmed and the defendant petitioned for cert.

Amicus Focuses on people with disabilities; the intended role of the FHAA by Congress in ending segregation and furthering full community integration; and the role disparate impact needs to play in overcoming bias not addressable in disparate treatment cases or through reasonable accommodation approaches or remedies, starting with discussing zoning/land use/living as a group-family unit in community and ending with cases on neutral admission and occupancy policies, for instance requiring "ability to live independently."  The second half of amicus discusses family status and includes a discussion of the ways disparate impact has been used to address discriminatory effects of neutral policies, such as occupancy and family size rules.

Favorable June 25, 2015 decision of court upholding disparate impact under the Fair Housing Act.


Domingo v. Kowalski (4th Cir. 2015)

Children abused by special ed teacher sued teacher & school. District court dismissed substantive due process claim applying “shocks the conscience test & finding teachers actions served an educational purpose

Amicus urges Court use a different construction for “shocks the conscience” and to find that special education teachers conduct shocked the conscience and served no educational purpose. 

Amicus was filed out of time because Amicus entities learned about lower court decision late. Motion seeking leave to file amicus out of time filed with amicus on February 6, 2015 


See, Bates v UPS under ADA


Hunt v. Amico Properties (11th Cir. 2014)

Affirmative Fair Housing Disability Discrimination suit based on non-renewal of lease for individual with disability and his mother because of alleged direct threat. Individual with disabilities has Downs and was describing violent anime cartoon show. 

Amicus discusses the need for enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to protect rights of invididuals to community integration and argues that defendant failed to do a proper evaluation of a direct threat uner the Fair Housing Act and the ADA. 

Rodriguez v  Village Green Realty (2nd Cir. 2014) 

Fair Housing Act, refusal to rent due to disability of child in family. District Court granted summary judgment to defendants on threshold question of coverage/disability/handicap of plaintiff under Fair Housing Act. 

Amicus argues that district court misapplied definition of disability under the Fair Housing Act.

Favorable June 2, 2105 decision




P&A Access

DLC v. Anchorage School District (9th Cir., Amicus Brief filed on May 21, 2008)

Question: Whether P&A access authority includes investigations of past abuse in a school and whether P&A has access to parent and guardian info for students

OPA v. Hartford Board of Ed (2nd Cir., Amicus Brief filed on Sept. 2006)

Question. Whether the District Court correctly held that P&A has a right to access parent & guardian info for students and to access to school facility, pursuant to PAIMI & PAIR. [ District Ct. found FERPA pre-empted by PAIMI.] [DOJ amicus supporting P&A access] [Decision dated 9-15-06 ]

Disability Rights Wisconsin, Inc. v Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (7th Cir., September 2006)

Question: Whether an elementary school can deny a P&A's request for names of parents of students who had been illegally secluded in school because the P&A had not obtained permission from the student's parents/guardians.   [Decision dated 9-15-06]

Autism Society of Michigan and Michigan Protection and Advocacy Services v. Fuller, (6th Cir.)

Question: Whether the P&A has associational standing on behalf of students with disabilities who are at risk of seclusion and restraint by local school district officials to seek injunctive relief to force the school district to adopt appropriate polices and procedures on seclusion and restraint and train school personnel.

OPA v. Kirk (2d Cir. Oct., Amicus Brief filed on 2005)

Question. In connection with the investigation of patient deaths at a State hospital, whether the Connecticut P&A has a right to access to peer review records under PAIMI.

Iowa P&A, Inc. v. Tanager Place (8th Cir., Amicus Brief filed on Oct. 2005)

Question. (1) the importance of P&A access authority in residential facilities for youth; (2) the constitutionality of the PAIMI statute
[order declaring moot]

Archives - Older Amicus Briefs


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Amicus Requests

Requests for NDRN to draft or join an amicus brief can be made by downloadng the NDRN Amicus Request form and submitting it to Kenneth Shiotani, NDRN's amicus coordinator

Factors influencing whether NDRN can grant a request include the importance of the issues to the P&A network, the procedural posture of the case, and the amount of time available for preparation and review of the amicus brief before it needs to be filed.

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