New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.  Cases provided by Fastcase, Inc.

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Accessible Facilities; Disability Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Vassenelli v. State University of New York, et al. (N.D. N.Y. March 19, 2018)

Memorandum Decision and Order granting Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiff, who is partially paralyzed and wheelchair bound, alleged intentional discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (RA) after he was injured by a nonoperational door while exiting State University of New York’s Upstate Medical University Institute for Human Performance (IHP).  Plaintiff previously brought the door to the attention of the head of Physical Therapy at IHP, who immediately emailed maintenance one week prior to Plaintiff’s injury. The court found that Plaintiff failed to allege that someone with authority to address the broken door knew of the issue and failed to adequately respond, let alone that an individual acted with discriminatory animus. The court further provided that Plaintiff’s disability discrimination claim failed to allege that he was denied access to “services, programs or activities” as a result of his alleged injury. The court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction on Plaintiff’s remaining state law claims. 

Accessible Facilities; Disability Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Twede, et al. v. University of Washington (W.D. Wash. Feb. 13, 2018)

Order granting-in-part and denying-in-part Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss. Plaintiffs—who are “individuals with mobility impairment disabilities” and who each regularly travel to UW for class, medical appointments, and social engagements—alleged that eighty-six of the University of Washington (UW)’s parking lots and their “accessible routes” violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act (RA), and the Washington Law Against Discrimination because they purportedly are not in compliance with 1991 and 2010 ADA standards. As a preliminary matter, the court found that Plaintiffs did not have standing to pursue claims for fifty-one of the parking lots because they either did not attempt to visit them or did not show that their knowledge of barriers deterred any interest they had in visiting them. Consistent with Title II of the ADA—which requires that public entities provide “meaningful access” to services, programs, or activities held in facilities constructed before January 26, 1992— the court found that parking lots built before January 26, 1992 were merely incidental to the services UW provided and they themselves did not constitute a “service, program, or activity” that required UW to provide meaningful access. However, because facilities built or modified after January 26, 1992 are subject to more specific requirements, the court allowed Plaintiff’s claims regarding parking lots built after January 26, 1992 to proceed to discovery. Last, the court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims with respect to “accessible routes, building entrances, payment kiosks, ramps, curb ramps, paths of travel, and signage barriers” because these allegations as stated in the Complaint were not sufficient to put UW on notice about what noncompliant features existed and where they were located.