Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Court Cases Over the Years

The Rights of People with Disabilities

In the past decade, the rights of people with disabilities has taken on increased importance in society and in the ACLU. Listed below are some of the disability-related cases that the Rhode Island ACLU has handled over the years:

1984: Smith v. Robinson

Appearance in U.S. Supreme Court arguing that attorney’s fees should be awarded under federal law in successful special education lawsuits; when the Court disagreed, Congress enacted a law overturning the Court ruling.

1984: Puerto Rican Political Action Committee v. DiStefano

Successful federal lawsuit challenging a complex state “verification procedure” for newly registered voters, including a blind plaintiff.

1989: Gannon v. Rhode Island Department of Transportation

Favorably settled lawsuit on behalf of a person arbitrarily denied a handicapped parking plate by the Department of Transportation.

1993: Cook v. Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals

Successful federal lawsuit challenging the state’s denial of employment to a person solely on the basis of her obesity.

1993: In re: Petition and Questionnaire for Admission to the Rhode Island Bar

In response to an ACLU request, the R.I. Supreme Court agreed to amend questions on the Bar application form relating to an applicant’s disabilities.

1994: Andrews v. RI Interscholastic League

A restraining order was issued in federal court on behalf of a student with learning disabilities who had been barred from playing football.

1995: D’Aprile v. Fleet Services Corporation

Successful “friend of the court” brief challenging the dismissal of a handicap discrimination case solely because the complainant had obtained disability benefits.

1996: League of Women Voters of R.I. v. R.I. State Board of Elections

Favorably settled federal lawsuit requiring the state to take immediate action to fully comply with provisions of the National Voter Registration Act, including requiring the availability of voter registration services at state-funded agencies providing assistance to people with disabilities.

1997: Borges v. State of Rhode Island

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging Registry of Motor Vehicles’ summary revocation of plaintiff’s commercial driver’s license after he advised the agency he had diabetes.

1997: Hodgens v. General Dynamics Corporation

“Friend of the court” brief challenging a court ruling that an employee whose medical condition was controlled by medication could not be considered “disabled” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

1998: Gray v. Registry of Motor Vehicles

Successful appeal on behalf of a person arbitrarily denied a chauffeur’s license based on a 14-year-old fainting incident.

2007: Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association of RI v. Taveres

Tavares. Favorably settled lawsuit challenging the denial of compensation to violent crime victims based solely on having an unrelated drug criminal history.

2010: R.I. ACLU v. Senesco Marine

Successful complaint challenging a company’s application form requiring job applicants to assert they could perform all tasks without the need for any accommodations.

2010: R.I. ACLU v. CVS Caremark Corporation

Successful complaint challenging a company’s on-line application form that asked discriminatory questions about applicants’ mental impairments.

See Other Highlighted Discrimination Cases:

Return to: Recent Discrimination Cases

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