April 27, 1999

Reserved Parking

The Americans with Disabilities Act was an attempt by Congress to provide a basic right of all to equal opportunity under the law. As usual, our great and mighty leaders forgot to read the book and came up with a feeble and ineffective bill that in most cases fails to right the wrongs it was intended to address. Progress has been cosmetic at best. The Act itself is disabled. The broad and generalized language of the statute effectively allows any situation that impairs the ability of an individual, in their or their lawyer's estimation to fully realize their right to whine incessantly about everything and more, as legal grounds to sue. The courts are currently under a state of seige, and the people who really needed the help in the first place are the least helped by the ADA.

When we think of disability, we think of missing limbs, total paralysis, brain damage, and the more serious of life's afflictions. The legal profession once again seized a potential fat cow and the opportunity to make a buck, and are now attempting to expand the definition to include the many inconveniences afforded the biologically imperfect sack of surplus chemicals we know as the human form. A real surprise was the top ten claims currently in vogue, which includes mental disability and lower back pain as the current favorites. The more astute among you may have realized by now these of all percieved problems would of course be the most difficult to refute or disallow. How many courts and juries have approved damages in these case simply because there was no real way to prove merit and allowed compensation based on a reasonable doubt? Current cases in front of the Supreme Court include everything from high blood pressure to to near-sightedness, and the end result will be a bill with no teeth and less, not more, respect and justice for the bonafide impaired. The chances of an actual defendable lawsuit being of benefit to a legitimately disabled individual are exponentially lowered everytime one of these frivilous suits go to the bench. The legal profession wins no matter what the realized benefit by those the Act was meant to assist. As the plot thickens, the rules change, and the technicalities muddy the waters, the profit potential increases and the retainers multiply.

So where do we draw the line? The Supreme Court has at least voiced a reasonable doubt as to the validity of some of the more obvious attempts to take advantage of the protections intended by the ADA. Dissenting opinion states the obvious question ... Where exactly do we draw the line? If near-sightedness or high blood pressure are allowed as valid disabilities, how can we ignore allergies and false teeth? There may come a day when halitosis and body odor are legitimate disabilities requiring special effort and expenditures by employers to rectify any social ills percieved by those who smell bad. I need to know that I am not opening myself up to potential lawsuit any time I have audacity to mention it when one of my fellow co-workers forgets to bathe or use a deodorant, douses themselves with gallons of cheap perfume, or passes gas. Under a broader interpretation of the statutes, this scenario is not totally without merit.

Next time you pass the handicapper parking spaces at your local supermarket, take a private poll and see just who avail's themselves of the opportunity. Chances are pretty good you'll see at least one person whose only obvious problem is obesity trundling back to the car with a load of pizza and ice cream. Contrary to popular opinion, fat is not now and never has been a disability. More times than not, you'll see people who obviously shouldn't be driving in the first place who put the world at risk everytime they climb behind the wheel. Another of my all time favorites is the kid borrowing Daddy's car, and what the hell, we got the plate - might as well use it ...

Before the bleeding hearts start bleeting as they're prone to do, keep in mind I personally qualify for special privileges under the American Disability Act, but would feel dirty using the Act as some of these lowlifes and social misfits have attempted. In my case, it's not necessarily the plastic knee, or the aluminum ankle, or even for that matter the plate in my head (It's the voices, it's the voices ...), so I for one have a vested interest in seeing that the disabled are afforded their just due. I solemnly promise to resist the urge to abuse the process for frivolous purposes, and fully intend to invoke special privilege only as a last resort. Amen.

Posted by NIFAIRIOUS at April 27, 1999 06:19 PM