AREAS OF PRACTICE
My practice emphasizes the rights of individuals with disabilities for the preservation and protection of their unalienable rights recognized in the United States Constitution and protected through Federal legislation.
The two principal Federal statutes which preserve and protect the rights of individuals with disabilities are the Americans With Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Title II of the ADA provides that “no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42 U.S.C. section 12132.
A “qualified individual with a disability” is defined as “an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxillary aids and services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.”
Title II of the ADA authorizes private suits by private citizens for money damages against public entities that violate section 12132.
Private actions for money damages are also possible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. section 794. That section provides:
No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States, as defined in section 706 (7) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. . . .
Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act for the express purpose of promoting and expanding opportunities in the public and private sectors for handicapped individuals.
Both of these statutes prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities on the basis of their disabilities or perceived disabilities.
In addition to the prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of disability there are also protections in the United States Constitution against a deprivation of due process, fundamental or procedural, and equal protection.
As it bears of the issue of disability the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
Section 1. . . No State shall . . . deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.
An individual whether disabled or not, may have a cause of action for a violation of their constitutional rights and liberties. You do not have a direct cause of actions against anyone for violations of your constitutional rights and liberties. 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 provides a cause of action for such violations.
Title 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 provides that:
[E]very person, who, under color of [state law] . . . subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States . . . to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress.
A person “subjects” another to the deprivation of a constitutional right, within the meaning of Section 1983, if he does an affirmative act, participates in another’s affirmative acts or omits to perform an action which he is legally required to do that causes the deprivation of which complaint is made.
In an action prosecuted under Section 1983 the full range of damages including punitive damages, where available pursuant to state law, may be recovered.
The full range of constitutional rights and liberties including the Freedom of Speech, Assembly, Right to Petition, Equal Protection and protections against retaliation are subject to enforcement through application of Section 1983.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. Sections 1681-1688.
Title IX provides that “[n]o person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
All education programs receiving federal funding must provide effective accommodation and equal treatment specifically the opportunity to participate in athletics, and equal treatment between the sexes in schedules, equipment, coaching and other factors.
Title IX has also been interpreted to protect students against harassment, bullying and violence based upon sex or gender.
Title IX further permits a private action that encompasses suits for retaliation because a student has complained of sex discrimination because retaliation is a form of sexual discrimination prohibited by the statute.
In addition to the protections of the ADA and Section 504 the parents of students with disabilities have rights to pursue state and Federal claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. The IDEA has the central goal to make sure that children with disabilities “receive a ‘free and appropriate public education’ commonly referred to by the term ‘FAPE’ that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.” A condition of the IDEA is that as a condition of receipt of Federal funding for public education every state must (1) provide each disabled child within its jurisdictional boundaries with a ‘free and appropriate public education’ tailored to his unique needs and (2) assure that such education is offered . . . in the least restrictive environment consistent with the disabled student’s needs.’
This firm provides legal services to the disabled individual whether a student or adult with the services to which they are entitled.
COMBINED STATE AND FEDERAL CLAIMS
I am also accepting cases involving causes of action arising from both Federal and State violations. For all such claims it is our standard practice to associate local counsel licensed in the jurisdiction in which the claim arises and licensed to practice in the state courts of that state.
SPORTS RELATED INJURIES
I am pursuing a cause of action against school districts for recovery of damages resulting from sports related injuries such as high school football. In Texas school districts are immune to all common law causes of action for personal injuries. Section 21.912 (b) provides:
(b) No professional employee of any school district within this state shall be personally liable for any act incident to or within the scope of the duties of his position of employment, and which act involves the exercise of judgment or discretion on the part of the employee, except in circumstances where professional employees use excessive force in the discipline of students or negligence resulting in bodily injury to students.
MENTAL HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS
I am pursuing a cause of action against privately operated for profit mental health facilities for violations of violations of the ADA and the Texas Mental Health Code regarding both voluntary and involuntary admissions and false imprisonment. These cases are reviewed as to potential violations of applicable state statutes and for violations of constitutional rights protected by the United States Constitution and Federal statutes.