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Published: Thursday, June 21, 2012
By JERRY WOLFFE
The Oakland Press
The third plaintiff, 3-D Racing, has failed to respond in time and thereby has defaulted in a federal lawsuit alleging it, USA Triathlon and the International Triathlon Union have discriminated against a visually impaired triathlon champion.
The original lawsuit, filed on April 24 by blind attorney Richard Bernstein of Farmington Hills, said the three sports entities violated the civil rights of Aaron Scheidies, formerly of Farmington.
Scheidies is visually impaired and the organizations want to require him to wear “blackout glasses” during future events.
The three sports entities allege they are equaling the playing field while Scheidies said requiring him to not be able to see anything because he is wearing the glasses makes it dangerous for him and able-bodied athletes to compete.
USA Triathlon challenged its default ruling in a motion to U.S. District Court Judge Patrick J. Duggan, who will now hold a hearing to determine whether to set aside the default judgments or let them stand, Bernstein said Thursday.
If Duggan lets the default judgment remain against the three defendants, they will lose the case, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act on Scheidies’ behalf, Bernstein and his staff will be able to rewrite the rules regarding triathlons and reasonable accommodations for athletes with disabilities.
Bernstein said he would immediately strike the blackout glasses requirement if the case is won.
If Duggan lifts the defaults after a hearing, Bernstein said he will begin litigation “against all the other organizations that work with USA Triathlon.”
He also said if the defaults are set aside, “we’re going to move for a permanent injunction against USA Triathlon and the others to stop future races until the matter of Scheidies’ case and blackout glasses is resolved.”
If the organizations fail to obey an injunction if one is granted by Duggan, they can be held in contempt of court and subject to a variety of severe penalties.
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