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Disability Rights Legal Center Newsletter
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DRLC Newsletter

Friday, December 9, 2011

DRLC Featured in L.A. Weekly Article
'Wheelchair Hell in Men's Central Jail'       

     Screen Capture of LA Weekly artwork

The Disability Rights Legal Center's class action lawsuit, on behalf of people with mobility disabilities incarcerated in Los Angeles County's jails, is the focus of an article in the December 8th edition of the LA Weekly. Disability Rights California, ACLU of Southern California, and Winston & Strawn LLP are co-counsel on this case. In "Wheelchair Hell in Men's Central Jail", Chris Vogel reports in vivid detail on the discrimination and deplorable conditions inmates with disabilities endure in the Men's Central Jail, and the DRLC lawsuit against the agencies and officials responsible for operating the jail system. Deprived of functioning wheelchairs and confined to inaccessible dorms, the inmates describe how they had to crawl to toilets and showers. They also allege that jail staff neglected to give them clean catheters or help them change, leaving them to sit in their urine and feces for days. They were not only deprived of physical accommodations but also medical care and access to some programs, including schooling, recreation and physical therapy. In addition to describing conditions in the jail, the article examines the failure of Sheriff Lee Baca and other department officials to improve them, even after an independent, ADA expert evaluated the Men's Central Jail, as early as 2007, and reported the lack of accommodations. Shawna Parks, DRLC Legal Director, is prominently featured in the article. The case is Johnson, et al. v. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, et al., Case No. CV 08-03515 DDP (JTLx).

Judge Halts State's Cuts of In-Home Supportive Services  


On December 1, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to halt the state of California's planned 20% reduction of In-Home Supportive Services hours, Oster, et al. v. Wagner, et al., Case No. 4:09-cv-04668-CW. The cuts would have taken effect on January 1, 2012. Disability Rights California, and other public interest legal groups, including Disability Rights Legal Center, filed the request for a temporary restraining order to protect the 372,000 people who rely on IHSS, 60% of whom are elderly. On average, a person using IHSS receives a modest 80 hours a month, or fewer than 3 hours a day of help. The judge found that the state's proposed reduction of benefits raised serious questions about violations of due process, the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal Medicaid law, and set a tentative date of December 15 for a hearing on the issues. The restraining order prohibits the state from taking any actions to cut benefits, including sending out notices to people who use IHSS. For years the DRLC has been fighting California's plans to reduce IHSS hours. In 2009, a U.S. District Court Judge ruled that the state could not go forward with its proposed cuts because they would violate federal law and cause "incredible human suffering" to seniors and people with disabilities. In that ruling, the judge enjoined all IHSS cuts in the class action lawsuit V.L. v Wagner. DRLC is counsel in both lawsuits

DRLC Participates in Charity Fair for Federal Workers 

      CFC Logo  

The Disability Rights Legal Center participated in the Combined Federal Campaign's Charity Fair on December 1st in downtown Los Angeles. Maggie Hui, Community Outreach Coordinator, and DRLC volunteer Jonathan De Jesus, staffed the event and promoted the DRLC's programs and services. Close to one hundred federal workers came to the fair to learn about CFC charities while enjoying food and entertainment, including a performance by a veterans' band. Federal employees who enroll in the CFC program contribute a portion of their earnings to participating charities. Federal workers can donate to the Disability Rights Legal Center through the Combined Federal Campaign; our organization's CFC number is 30555.

Save the Date    

Saturday, December 10 Seminar & Legal Clinic:
Rights of Children with Disabilities at Charter Schools 


The Disability Rights Legal Center is presenting a seminar and legal clinic for parents, guardians, and parent advocates about students with disabilities' rights to admission, special education and related services at charter schools. DRLC will also do legal intakes to determine if we can be of assistance, including providing referrals and evaluating options to resolve disputes. Lunch and snacks will be provided. DRLC asks for $10 but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. The academy will be on Saturday, December 10, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, 919 Albany Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015.  Download the flyer for more information. To sign up and/or request accommodations please contact us at: (213) 736-1447; toll free, (866) 999-3752; video relay phone, (866) 912-8193; or via email at  DRLC@lls.edu. 

Tuesday, December 15 Live Webinar:
A Practitioner's Guide to Disability Awareness 

    American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights logo       

Persons with visible, sensory and hidden disabilities face unique problems in accessing our legal system. Legal practitioners have obligations to accommodate clients, employees and others with all types of disabilities, and must now understand the environmental, architectural, logistical and cultural barriers that define and impact the rights of disabled individuals in order to properly represent their clients. Presenters include Paula Pearlman, Executive Director, Disability Rights Legal Center, Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Loyola Law School Los Angeles. The program will cover the following topics:

  • Developing cross-disability sensitivity and awareness, including people's first language
  • Identifying best practices in customer service through the use of disability etiquette and effective communication skills
  • Identifying some common characteristics of difficult people who may have a mental health condition and practical tips on how to have positive interactions
  • Identifying and responding to requests for accommodations

Sponsored by the American Bar Association Commission on Disability Rights. Potential CLE Credits. For more information, and to register, visit the program's webpage

How to Help   

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.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 Group Photo 2011
Disability Rights Legal Center Staff October 2011