By: Richard Bernstein 6/14/13 This was a memorable week in our fight to eradicate bullying from Michigan’s schools. As the school year comes to a...
By Richard Bernstein It was a great honor to have recently returned from traveling to London to work with Chabad Lubavitch UK. Chabad Lubavitch is...
A car accident can be a traumatic experience, no matter how serious. Even experienced, cautious drivers can be involved in accidents due to the negligent...
Livingston Daily Press & Argus
By Lisa Roose-Church
May 12, 2008
A Pinckney resident is one of five Detroit-area residents suing Northwest Airlines Corp. and the Wayne County Airport Authority for alleged discrimination against disabled fliers.
According to a 29-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, James Keskeny of Pinckney, who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, alleges he has been physically transported in a "degrading manner" by untrained airport personnel.
Keskeny, who has flown on Northwest for business and vacations, alleges he was tilted parallel to the floor as he was wheeled down the aisle of a plane by airport personnel and that airline employees broke his wheelchair while handling it.
Keskeny said a lot of his trips were frustrating in a number of different ways, including long waits to get in and out of the restroom, or to get off the plane, or not having proper access for wheelchair storage.
"A guy almost dropped (me) and tipped me on my head," he said Wednesday.
"I've experienced everything from discourteous to absolute rude behavior, nothing near the experience you should receive. ... Northwest has dropped the ball in so many ways, someone needs to kick them in the shins and get them to say, 'We need to do better by our customers.' "
Farmington Hills attorney Richard Bernstein of the Bernstein Law Firm filed the lawsuit April 14 in U.S. District Court in Detroit, "seeking an end to Northwest and the airport authority's failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Air Carrier (Access) Act and the Rehabilitation Act," a spokeswoman said.
The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel and the Rehabilitation Act includes a variety of provisions focused on rights for people with disabilities.
"Our clients are not seeking financial damages. This is not about money," Bernstein said. "This is the ability for people with disabilities to travel and interact with commerce. It's significant because ... this is happening on a routine and systematic basis throughout American airlines. This is not aberration. ... They are showing a complete lack of respect for the law."
Bernstein said his clients are "only asking" that Northwest and the airport authority follow basic federal guidelines and standards for its disabled customers.
Attorneys for Northwest are seeking to dismiss the suit, arguing that the access law does not provide for a private cause of action in federal court.
They also argue that Congress did not intend for the Rehabilitation Act to apply to commercial air carriers.
The airport authority has denied committing any act of discrimination, according to court documents. Attorneys for the authority are seeking to dismiss the allegation that it violated the access law, saying the airport authority is not subject to the liability under the act.
Oral arguments are expected July 10 before U.S. District Judge George Steeh.
Plaintiffs in the suit also include two Detroit residents, one of whom suffered from the effects of polio and was "forced to stand in line when physically unable to do so" and a blind woman who was "denied use of check-in kiosks" and missed flights while waiting for assistance, the lawsuit states. Also suing are a Roseville man who alleges he was "dropped to the floor due to improper assistance"; and a Farmington resident whose wheelchair "incurred repeated damage on Northwest flights and was also given to another disabled passenger by mistake."
The lawsuit alleges the woman from Farmington also was denied handicapped-accessible parking at the airport.
Visually Impaired Athlete Sues USA Triathlon
Richard Bernstein Challenges ABA for Discrimination Against Blind Law Students
Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Honors Richard Bernstein with Courage Award
Attorney Richard Bernstein Named Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Victory! Disabled Win Access to U-M Stadium