California Wrongful Death Lawsuit Questions Americans With Disabilities Act

by Staff Blogger | March 30th, 2015

The California personal injury attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers explain there are laws that protect the rights of the disabled in the United States. One of those laws is the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits an individual with a disability from being discriminated against in areas of employment, transportation, communication, government activities, and public accommodation.

One of these accommodations has come into question through a California wrongful death lawsuit. The suit was filed after a mentally ill and disabled San Francisco woman was killed while being arrested by police officers. The lawsuit, which was filed by the woman’s family, claims officers failed to provide “reasonable accommodations” for the woman when arresting her—as required by the law—and instead used unreasonable force.

An article from the Associated Press explains the ill woman suffered from schizophrenia and had threatened her social worker, prompting officers to arrive and attempt to take her into custody to be taken to a mental health facility; however, the woman threatened officers with a knife and was shot.

The family of the victim claims officers should have taken the Americans With Disabilities Act into consideration by acting in a less aggressive manner, including waiting for backup to arrive before approaching and speaking in a less threatening manner. The District Attorney stated officers acted accordingly, considering the victim was armed.

The case went before a federal district court and it was ruled the officers acted accordingly, but the decision was overturned on appeal by the circuit court, who stated the decision should be made by a jury.

Having clear-cut definitions to the laws that protect the disabled is crucial and the California wrongful death lawyers at Berg Injury Lawyers are anxiously awaiting the decision in this particular case. We hope the decision will bring peace and closure to the family of the victim.