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Disability Rights Legal Center Newsletter
Good News Report
DRLC Newsletter

Friday, September 23, 2011

DRLC Defends Rights of Homeless Woman With Disabilities 

The Disability Rights Legal Center filed a complaint on Thursday, September 22
, against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on behalf of Jennie Santillan, a woman with multiple disabilities who is homeless, to vindicate her civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and related laws. The case is Santillan vs. City of Los Angeles, et al., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. CV 11-7859GAS (SHx).

Ms. Santillan, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and other disabilities, relies on a motorized wheelchair for mobility. According to the complaint, during her arrest and detention, law enforcement officers: abandoned her motorized wheelchair on a sidewalk in Skid Row; failed to provide her with an alternate mobility aid; threw away her prescription medication; and caused her intense pain by handcuffing her legs and dragging her to the police car, handcuffing her to benches for hours, and employing other rough treatment despite her pleas that she was in pain.    


Screen capture of Santillan arrest video shot by LACAN 
Image from video of
Jennie Santillan's arrest
captured by LACAN

Ms. Santillan seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for discrimination because of the denial of reasonable accommodations and program access during her arrest and detention. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department must develop and implement policies to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities, such as the failure to provide mobility aids and other disability accommodations.  


The arrest was caught on video by a member of Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), and is posted on the DRLC's YouTube site at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0czYFUhP2w.


Ms. Santillan was arrested on July 10, 2010, while eating lunch with a friend near Bark Avenue Foundation on 545 S. Main Street. She was unarmed. She was detained for four days, first at Central Division Police Station, then at 77th Street Community Police Station/Regional Jail, and finally at the Sheriff's Department's Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood. When she was released on July 14, she found herself outside the gates of the Lynwood facility, alone, without a wheelchair or accommodations for travel back to Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.


After Los Angeles Police Department officers abandoned Ms. Santillan's motorized wheelchair on the sidewalk, Business Improvement District officers stored it in a facility in Skid Row. Ms. Santillan spent weeks tracking it down. When she recovered it, she found it was broken and inoperable. She had originally obtained the motorized wheelchair through Medicaid and cannot afford a new one. Ms. Santillan is forced to use a manual wheelchair despite extreme hardship and pain.


"This was a case of kicking a person when down," said Shawna Parks, DRLC Legal Director. "In her daily life, Ms. Santillan lives on the streets while using a wheelchair. By discarding her motorized wheelchair, handcuffing her and dragging her around, law enforcement officers not only caused her intense pain but could have caused her serious injury. They seriously disrupted her mobility, not just that day but for months going forward. This violates not just the law, but all fundamental tenets of human decency."


Ms. Santillan seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as damages for discrimination because of the denial of reasonable accommodations and program access during her arrest and detention. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department must develop and implement policies to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities such as the failure to provide mobility aids and other disability accommodations.

Jay Angoff Speaks at Cancer Rights Conference    


Jay Angoff
Jay Angoff speaks at Cancer Rights Conference

Today, the Cancer Legal Resource Center presented a national Cancer Rights Conference at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. A special guest speaker, Jay Angoff, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gave his expert perspective on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act through a cancer lens. Cancer patients, survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals attended the conference to receive information and resources on cancer-related legal issues. The conference was provided at no charge through the generosity of sponsors and partners.  

DRLC Welcomes First Kirkland & Ellis Justice Fellow 


Kunti Dudakia has joined the DRLC as its first Kirkland & Ellis Justice Fellow, and will lead the Community Advocacy Program that the DRLC will launch in October. Ms. Dudakia is a 2011 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Boalt Hall). As the 2009 William K. Coblentz Fellow at the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Ms. Dudakia developed a Black Women & Mental Health Pathfinder, a resource guide for advocates, which brings together significant research on Black women, mental health and incarceration.  Additionally, Ms. Dudakia was the Solicitations Editor of the Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy, Inaugural Board Member of the Women of Color Collective and served as the 2009-2010 Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee. She attributes much of her development as a disability rights advocate to her training and experience during her full-time, semester abroad internship in Washington, D.C. at the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section. During her free time, she enjoys hiking, travel, and watching soccer games with her favorite club team, FC Barcelona

Disability Mentoring Day on Wednesday, October 12 


Participants at Disability Mentoring Day 2010
Participants at Los Angeles' Disability Mentoring Day 2010
This year's Disability Mentoring Day in Los Angeles will be held on Wednesday, October 12 at Loyola Law School. Job seekers and students with disabilities ages 18 and over who are attending high school, vocational schools, or college are eligible to participate as mentees. The event empowers students and job seekers by providing them with job shadowing and career exploration.

To learn more, visit the Disability Mentoring Day webpage of our website.


Save The Date  

Save the Date: Seminar on Mediating Disability Rights Cases on Tuesday, October 4

Disability Rights Legal Center logo

PMA Dispute Resolution

On Tuesday
, October 4, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Disability Rights Legal Center and PMA Dispute Resolution will present "Mediating Disability Rights Cases: Keys to Successful Resolution." The seminar will cover the following topics:
  • Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA)
  • What's Different about Mediating a Disability Case?
  • Tools for Successful Disability Mediation  
The seminar will be taught by Paula Pearlman, Executive Director, Disability Rights Legal Center and Associate Visiting Professor of Law, Loyola Law School; Nicholas DeWitt, Mediator, PMA Dispute Resolution in Los Angeles; and John Rodriguez, Mediator, John Rodriguez Mediation in Los Angeles. The $50 seminar will include parking, breakfast and materials, and MCLE credit (this seminar is certified by the CA State Bar for 1 hour of Elimination of Bias and 2 hours of general credit). The event will be held at Loyola Law School, Burns Building Student Lounge, 919 Albany Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015. To register and/ or request an accommodation, please contact Anabel Prudencio at (213) 736-8195 or Anabel.Prudencio@LLS.edu. Please request accommodations by September 20th.            

Community Outreach Program Offers Free Legal Clinics 
Photo of Dayle McIntosh Center

Dayle McIntosh Center

To better serve residents of Orange County, Community Outreach Program staff will hold office hours on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Dayle McIntosh Center in Garden Grove. That means this month we will host office hours at the center on September 28. Come meet our staff and learn about laws protecting the civil rights of those with disabilities, and services available to them, including health care, special education, government services and more. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact Maggie Hui, Community Outreach Program Coordinator, at (213) 736-1408 or Maggie.Hui@lls.edu. Video TDD (213) 736-8310; Video Relay Number (866) 912-8193. The Dayle McIntosh Center is located at 13272 Garden Grove Boulevard, Garden Grove, CA 92843-2205.

Shop at Ralphs and Defend Rights of People with Disabilities  
Ralph's Community Contributions Program logo

Thank you so much for championing the rights of people with disabilities by supporting the DRLC through Ralphs Community Contribution Program. The new program year began on September 1, 2011. Even if you are currently registered as a member, you must register again. The DRLC uses every dollar donated from this program to serve people with disabilities. Please visit www.ralphs.com  to both re-register and to register.

Champion the Rights of People with Disabilities by Shopping, Searching Online  


You can support the work of the Disability Rights Legal Center simply by shopping and searching online. Become an iGive member and choose the DRLC as one of the causes you support, then click on an iGive link to one of the almost one thousand participating retailers, including Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, DisneyStore.com, eBay, Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, Macy's, NORDSTROM.com, Overstock.com, ProFlowers, Sport Chalet, Travelocity. You will not pay more for products, rather the companies give a listed percentage of the purchase to your cause. There are no obligations or hidden fees. Causes always receive 100% of the donation amount advertised on iGive's website. You can also contribute to the DRLC simply by using iGive's search engine. Go to iGive.com to sign up.


The online credit card donation feature is available on the Make a Donation page of the DRLC website. This quick and easy function can be used for general donations.  



Visit the How You Can Help page of our website to volunteer as a pro bono attorney on a disability rights case, work as a student law clerk or assist with intake and administrative responsibilities.


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DRLC Staff Photo August 2010

Disability Rights Legal Center Staff Photo August 2010