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Florida man tries to bust up agreement between Boston, disability advocates over handicap ramps; judge is skeptical

A Ft. Lauderdale man is asking a federal judge to block an agreement in a class-action lawsuit in which Boston has agreed to install or repair 15,000 handicap ramps, but the judge says he won't listen to his arguments unless he can first explain why and prove he actually spends time in Boston.

William Norkunas, himself a wheelchair user who has filed frequent disabilities-related lawsuits, wants to be heard at an Oct. 19 hearing before US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, who is overseeing the agreement between the city and local advocates for the disabled. He made his request in a filing last week in which he claimed to be a member of the class represented by the four residents of Jamaica Plain and Braintree who brought the suit, but did not specify just what was wrong with the agreement beyond that it is "not fair, not reasonable, not adequate and not in the best interests of the settlement class.

In a ruling today, Stearns said that before he'll listen to Norkunas, he first has to specify just what his problem with the settlement is - and prove he is a member of the class of citizens who are a party to the suit that led to the settlement - specifically, people with mobility disabilities who have some connection with Boston.

The class action is brought on behalf of individuals with mobility disabilities who live in, work in, or visit Boston. ... The objection must state whether it applies only to the objector, to a specific subset of the class, or to the entire class, and also state with specificity the grounds for the objection.

Mr. Norkunas has until October 8, 2021, to certify that he is in fact a member of the class (the court notes that he lists a residential address in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).

The city and the lawyers for the four residents who brought the suit would then have a week to respond.

In 2014, in a suit over ADA compliance at two Boston hotels, the Boston Business Journal reported, Norkaunas said he often visits Boston "to visit family, friends and his wife's grave."

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Comments

Interesting, cane, crutches, no wheelchair, and he can enter and exit an SUV.

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If someone uses crutches around their house, they can still choose to use a wheelchair to get around Boston. You don't know the nature of his disability, and neither do I. What I do know is whose business it isn't: yours.

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He pulled a gun. He lives in a high crime area (Florida) where pulling out a weapon is a pretty common upper body exercise.

I've seen my mom do something similar, but with a shotgun.

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The judge is trying to determine if he has sitting in the case.

(now I'm wondering if the above commentator is thinking he will pull a gun on the judge or something?)

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Please don't make jokes about how people in wheelchairs can't have "standing" in a legal case. That's offensive.

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But is it not vastly more offensive that the justice system says that this person does not have "standing".

Contemplate this: this joke is a way of pointing out systemic abelism embedded in the justice system, which is far more of a problem than your precious tone policing of my presumed individual nonwoke "manners" could ever be.

That's the inherent problem with concern trolls: they so love to boss and shame individuals that they fundamentally miss the bigger picture.

I don't know what point you're trying to make exactly, but I do think your joke was actually in poor taste. I didn't think it was worth mentioning, but now that you're doubling down on it I feel like I should say so.

(I'm not cancelling you or whatever. It's just... this is not the hill to die on.)

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Because her shit doesn't stink

No one bossed or shamed you. Someone pointed out, in a very polite manner, that you had made a distasteful joke, and that ableism isn't funny. Your amplified backblow is making it very difficult to see your original comment as thoughtless but unintentional, and those who might have been inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt are probably reconsidering.

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Offensive things are funny.

...whose favorite sport is punching down.

Apparently this person likes to be an expert witness in these types of cases. Great, I'm sure he has some pertinent knowledge. It will be interesting to learn if he can respond adequately to the Judge's questions. He's got 11 calendar days.

"Hire me or I will mess up whatever you won't hire me for". His linked in shows numerous cases in MA, but it seems he thinks he should have been hired for this one.


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