Maryland Disability Law Center and HWGPrevail in Appeal of Disabilities Rights Case

August 14, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 14, 2014

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled—reversing a district court decision—that an individual with a disability may bring suit with respect to each independent discriminatory denial of a request for accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act that occurs within the relevant statute of limitations.  The lower court had held that where multiple requests for reasonable accommodation under the Rehabilitation Act are denied, the later requests and denials do not restart the limitations period.  Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis (“HWG”), in coordination with Maryland Disability Law Center (“MDLC”), represented Gladys Hill and her daughter, Cynthia Mitchell, who brought suit against Hill’s landlord to enforce Hill’s right to reasonable accommodation of her disability.  The case, Gladys Hill and Cynthia Mitchell v. Hampstead Lester Morton Court Partners LP, et al., arose out of a decade-long battle by Hill to obtain a wheelchair ramp or other reasonable accommodation of her disability from her federally subsidized landlord.  The Fourth Circuit held that Hill’s claim was not time-barred because each of the landlord’s denials of a request for reasonable accommodation “constitutes an allegedly independent and discrete act of discrimination.”

The decision marks an important victory for the disability rights community.  Plaintiffs with disabilities seeking to enforce their rights under disability rights statutes are often barred from bringing suit by the broad application of statutes of limitations.  The Fourth Circuit’s decision will advance the ability of people with disabilities to procure their day in court every time an accommodation is unlawfully denied.

The HWG team included Christopher Wright, Timothy Simeone, and Danielle Piñeres.  The MDLC team included Luciene Parsley and Lauren Young.

MDLC is Maryland’s federally mandated protection and advocacy center for persons with disabilities.  For more information, visit our website at  www.MDLClaw.org or visit us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/MDLCLaw?ref=br_tf.

For further information, please contact Lara Knowles at (202) 379-4533 or Luciene Parsley at (443) 692-2494.

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