On July 6, 2017, with representation from the ACLU of Utah and the law firm of Latham & Watkins, the Disability Law Center filed a lawsuit demanding the right to counsel for anyone who is to be put under guardianship. The lawsuit also challenges a 2016 Utah law, H.B. 101, which lowered legal counsel requirements for people with disabilities who are involved in guardianship disputes. Enacted in 2016, H.B. 101, “Disabled Adult Guardianship Amendments,” states that under certain circumstances, a person with disabilities defending against a petition for guardianship brought by a parent isn’t required to have an attorney. By allowing guardianships to be imposed on people with disabilities without requiring and paying for counsel to protect their interests, the suit alleges that the state of Utah violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
On July 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for The 10th Circuit ruled that Octapharma Plasma, Inc., and other plasma donation centers – like virtually all other commercial establishments open to the public – are public accommodations subject to the non-discrimination requirements of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The decision, the first on this issue by a federal appellate court, overturns the holding of a Utah federal trial court and rejects the multi-billion-dollar plasma industry’s position that its members may freely turn away people with disabilities or otherwise discriminate with impunity against its largely indigent donors.
Filed by the DLC in federal district court on May 2, 2016 on behalf of a 22 year old woman (designated “J.H.” in court filings), who has both Down Syndrome and Diabetes. The lawsuit, filed under the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), alleges that plaintiff J.H. has attended a program known as “HIVEs” (Habilitation Independence Vocation Education Socialization) operated by defendant Just for Kids of Utah County, Inc. (“Just for Kids”) for ten years without incident, but that presently she has been barred from attending because she has Diabetes.
Filed by the DLC in federal district court on April 11, 2016, a 27 year old college student living with HIV alleges that he was denied service by a tattoo parlor solely because of his HIV status. The defendant tattoo shop, Six Feet Below, LLC (“Six Feet Below”), allegedly acted pursuant to a blanket policy of excluding any person with HIV from receiving service. The suit alleges that HIV and AIDS are recognized as disabilities under the ADA, and that the defendant Six Feet Below’s exclusion policy and its refusal of service to plaintiff (coincidentally, also designated “J.H.” in court papers) are violations of the ADA.
On September 8, 2015, the Disability Law Center (DLC) and a group of individual plaintiffs, represented by DLC attorneys and the law firm of Snell & Wilmer LLP, filed a class action lawsuit against Utah’s Department of Human Services (DHS), Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health (DSAMH), and the Utah State Hospital (USH), charging that these state entities are systematically forcing vulnerable criminal defendants to languish in jail while waiting months to be transferred to USH for treatment. The suit alleges that the state hospital system’s inability to provide incompetent criminal defendants with court-ordered restoration treatment within a reasonable time frame violates their due process rights.