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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides one Indiana case today, re accessibility of St. Joseph Co. state court facilities

In Hummel v. St. Joseph Co. Bd. (ND Ind., DeGuilio), a 23-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:

This appeal arises from a broad challenge to the accessibility of state court facilities in St. Joseph County, Indiana, for individuals with disabilities. Over the years of this lawsuit, some plaintiffs who were formerly litigating cases in the state court facilities have stopped doing so. Some plaintiffs have died. Others have dropped their claims. The lawsuit also seems to have prompted physical changes to the main courthouse and to the state court’s policies.

In 2014, the district court granted summary judgment for the defendants on all then-remaining claims. Plaintiffs have appealed. We affirm, not for any single, central reason, but for different reasons for the numerous claims. Plaintiffs lack standing to sue for some of their claims. They failed to present evidence sufficient to raise genuine disputes of material fact on other claims. Plaintiffs’ strongest claim was that court-house restrooms were inaccessible. The courthouse has since been remodeled to become more accessible, so that claim is moot.

We do not hold that the St. Joseph County courts are fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act. Rather, we hold only that these plaintiffs have failed to present evidence sufficient to survive defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the specific claims before the district court. We express no opinion regarding any possible future claims involving courthouse accessi-bility. If, in the future, individuals with disabilities experience problems with access to the St. Joseph County courts, their claims will need to be decided on a fresh record.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 23, 2016 03:54 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions