[nabs-l] Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree

Rob Blachowicz rob_blach at hotmail.com
Sun Aug 15 23:53:37 UTC 2010


I do agree with your point what I have aproblem with is the way the article 
was written.   It makes it sound like the poor blind guy instead of oh the 
poor man that hit himself against a tree.

--------------------------------------------------
From: "Dennis Clark" <dennisgclark at sbcglobal.net>
Sent: Sunday, August 15, 2010 7:52 PM
To: "National Association of Blind Students mailing list" 
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree

> Hello Jedi,
>
> Like Mark I am not addressing you specifically, but your post articulated 
> some issues very clearly which were also voiced by others, so I am 
> responding to your post generally.  It appears to me that universal design 
> is being proposed on one hand and then argued against on the other hand. 
> In almost all cities in the United States public walkways by law are an 
> excellent example of the concept of universal design, and the laws 
> specifying safety precautions for public walkways demonstrate how this 
> principle should work.  Public walkways are required by law to be kept 
> clear of obstacles to prevent injury to all those using the walkways, and 
> this includes objects placed on the walkways and objects hanging into and 
> obstructing the walkways.  Even though the walkway is usually a sidewalk 
> owned by the city, The store owner, landlord, or the city itself is 
> responsible for keeping the walkway clear of obstacles, and if they fail 
> in this duty they are responsible for the damages resulting from their 
> failure. The universal design of a public walkway should clearly mandate 
> that people of any height be able to walk along the sidewalk without 
> injury, and this is what the safety laws are attempting to accomplish. In 
> the late 1970's it became clear that public walkways were not as universal 
> as needed, because people in wheelchairs could not navigate curbs, so this 
> defect was corrected.  The governing design principle is that everyone 
> must be able to safely and easily use the public walkway.  Clearly an 
> obstacle at head height for some portion of the population is not safe, it 
> has not been permitted for a long time, and it is contrary to the notion 
> of universal design.
>
> Some have stated directly or indirectly that a law suit is not the correct 
> way to handle such a case.  What do people believe would be the correct 
> way to handle it?
>
> The message I am taking from most of the respondents of this post is that 
> the sighted world should be permitted to do whatever they choose to do, 
> and it is our responsibility as blind people to find a way to accommodate 
> those decisions.  That is certainly a legitimate position and it would be 
> embraced by those who label themselves libertarians, but it is not a 
> position that I personally agree with.  In fact my position is the 
> opposite.  My goal is to persuade the legislatures and courts to recognize 
> our rights as blind people, and then to force everyone to comply with 
> those laws, voluntarily if possible and if they move quickly, but if not 
> then by suing them in court. That is what all businesses do, and it is the 
> only language they understand, and it is what they immediately do when 
> they themselves have a problem with another business.  This is how our 
> system works today and it is how it has always worked.  Judges are the 
> referees or umpires of the free enterprise system.  The courts are not 
> filled with individuals suing businesses or suing one another as the 
> newspapers would have you believe. The courts are actually filled with 
> businesses suing other businesses.  Litigation is expensive, and 
> individuals for the most part cannot afford it.  The idea that a lawyer is 
> going to take a small case like the one being discussed here on a 
> contingent fee arrangement is a fantasy.
>
> Best,
> Dennis
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Jedi" <loneblindjedi at samobile.net>
> To: <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
> Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2010 3:04 PM
> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree
>
>
>> Marc,
>>
>> I feel that my comments were taken out of context somewhat. I was trying 
>> to give both sides of the issue a fair hearing. It's true that bringing 
>> attention to the incident in the way it's being done might in fact 
>> solidify negative perceptions of blindness; anyone who has been blind a 
>> while shouldn't miss that possibility unless they've been hiding under a 
>> rock a while. Whether we like it or not, the public tends to view us 
>> through their own speculations of what their lives might be like if they 
>> were blinded immediately without realizing that they have considerable 
>> gaps in knowledge regarding blindness. What I also said is that the tree 
>> could have served as a legitimate obstacle for this particular blind man. 
>> Though I didn't say it directly, what I meant is that perhaps he does 
>> have a cause to seek remedy even if a lawsuit may not be the best way to 
>> handle things. In my opinion, this incident is much like the woman who 
>> spilled hot coffee in her lap and sued McDonnald's.
>>
>> Maybe I'm wrong, but what I hear you saying is that NFB philosophy (or at 
>> least your understanding of it) seems to be out of sync with universal 
>> design principles for the reason of not wanting blind people to look 
>> incompetent. I don't think this is the case. I think the NFB does support 
>> (and fights for) universal design, but we're also about creating a 
>> universal design that honors the capacities of blind people while meeting 
>> our accessibility needs rather than creating a design that assumes that 
>> we have more needs than we really do. Does that make sense?
>>
>> Respectfully,
>> Jedi
>>
>>
>> Original message:
>>> I'm not very surprised, but nevertheless still disturbed, by a majority 
>>> of
>>> the responses to this article.  Based on one reporters account of this
>>> story, we have rediculous proposals insisting that blind people ought to
>>> walk around holding one arm in the air, we have unjustified claims about 
>>> how
>>> fast the person must have been walking, we have unfounded assumptions 
>>> about
>>> what this person may have tried to do before escalating to a law suit, 
>>> and
>>> we have highly speculative claims about how this one incident is going 
>>> to
>>> set every confident, independent blind person back 20 years.
>>
>>> Jedi wrote the following, and this is not directed at Jedi; she only 
>>> said
>>> first, and with brevity and clarity, what many others said afterwards.
>>
>>> However, suing could set a bad precedent as it > would reaify the notion
>>> that obstacles of any kind are hazardous to > blind people because we 
>>> are
>>> blind; the public may take this incident > and generalize it to all
>>> obstacles whether they're really an > inconvenience to one/all of us or 
>>> not.
>>
>>> I would raise three objections to this line of thinking.  None of them 
>>> are
>>> devastating, but, taken together, I think there is good reason to not be
>>> completely convinced that people who fight these sorts of battles are 
>>> doing
>>> us all harm.
>>
>>> 1. We shouldn't be so quick to think that we can predict how any one
>>> individual, let alone the so called public, is going to react to these 
>>> sorts
>>> of stories.  Someone reading the story might respond more to the fact 
>>> that
>>> the person was travelling in the community independently, she might 
>>> focus on
>>> the person's willingness to stand up for what he believes, she might 
>>> begin
>>> to think about her own front yard tree with its low hanging branches, or
>>> most likely in my opinion, she won't think twice about it, assuming she
>>> reads it at all.  The point is that there is a lot of speculation 
>>> involved
>>> here, and we should be cautious in the face of so much speculation.
>>
>>> 2. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that there is this thing called 
>>> the
>>> public, and the public generalizes from the experience of one person and
>>> applies it to all of us blind people.  The public believes that we all 
>>> need
>>> help getting around all these obsticles, and eventually this leads to
>>> discrimination and unemployment.  Should we base our positions on what 
>>> we
>>> judge to be right, or should we base them on how the public will react 
>>> to
>>> them? Probably the response will be to say that we should base our 
>>> positions
>>> on both what we think is right and how the public will react.  Fine, I'm 
>>> not
>>> saying we should ignore public reaction, but in the face of so much
>>> speculation, see objection 1, where public reaction is highly 
>>> unpredictable,
>>> it should play only a very minor role in deciding what sort of 
>>> activities we
>>> should engage in.
>>
>>> 3. Even if the public does develop negative misconceptions based on 
>>> these
>>> sorts of stories, this doesn't mean that people can't be educated.  Why
>>> couldn't it be the case that by fighting to remove these barriers, we 
>>> suffer
>>> a short-term increase in negative conceptions for a decrease of such
>>> conceptions in the long term? Get blind people out in the community, and
>>> that's how you will change attitudes.  The more people that feel they 
>>> can
>>> comfortably and independently travel throughout the community, without
>>> having first spent 8 months intensively studying the latest
>>> hand-in-front-of-face technique for detecting over-hanging obsticles, 
>>> the
>>> more people you will have out in the community, the more relationships 
>>> will
>>> be developed, and the more likely you are to change attitudes.
>>
>>> Many of the comments thus far in this thread illustrate two of the most
>>> fundamental ways in which I think NFB policies are misguided.  First, 
>>> the
>>> failure to promote universal design.  Universal design means creating
>>> institutions, products, processes, services, and so on that are as
>>> accessible as possible to the widest number of people, without the user
>>> having to possess special equipment or training.  If environment A is 
>>> only
>>> navigable by some blind person who has been blind for ten years, who has 
>>> had
>>> training at an NFB Center, and who has no other disabling physical
>>> variations, and environment B is navigable by someone recently blind, 
>>> with
>>> little training, and with a bad hip, then we should adopt stances 
>>> towards
>>> design that bring us closer to environment B.  It might be true that, at
>>> first, taking these positions causes that foolish public to believe that
>>> blindness equals incompetence, but this leads me to my second concern 
>>> with
>>> NFB policy: there is far too much concern with the variety of ways that 
>>> the
>>> public might think less of us.  Of course public perceptions matter, but
>>> they are highly unpredictable, changeable over time, and should not make 
>>> us
>>> afraid to fight for what is right.
>>
>>> I've been preaching this sort of attitude for a while now, and I don't
>>> really expect to change anyone's mind, but there is another perspective 
>>> to
>>> this story that hasn't been aired fully.
>>
>>> Best,
>>
>>> Marc
>>
>>> ----- Original Message -----
>>> From: "Jedi" <loneblindjedi at samobile.net>
>>> To: <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
>>> Sent: Friday, August 13, 2010 7:30 PM
>>> Subject: Re: [nabs-l] Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with 
>>> tree
>>
>>
>>>> The tree could be an annoying obstacle for anyone, particularly tall
>>>> people. And yes, it is true that tall blind people who don't use guide
>>>> dogs or some sort of hand guide device/echolocation are going to miss
>>>> those overhead branches. However, suing could set a bad precedent as it
>>>> would reaify the notion that obstacles of any kind are hazardous to 
>>>> blind
>>>> people because we are blind; the public may take this incident and
>>>> generalize it to all obstacles whether they're really an inconvenience 
>>>> to
>>>> one/all of us or not.
>>
>>>> Respectfully,
>>>> Jedi
>>
>>>> Original message:
>>>>> I thought this story was interesting. What do you think? Is the
>>>>> lawsuit appropriate?
>>
>>>>> Arielle
>>>>> Blind man sues Wienerschnitzel over run-in with tree
>>
>>>>> http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/50092926-78/tree-reynolds-wienerschnitzel-suit.html.csp
>>>>> By bob mims
>>
>>>>> The Salt Lake Tribune
>>
>>>>> Updated Aug 12, 2010 10:59PM
>>>>> All Nathan Reynolds wanted was a hot dog. Instead, as the blind man
>>>>> walked toward a Wienerschnitzel restaurant last year, he got a face
>>>>> full of tree — and severe neck injuries.
>>
>>>>> Now, the 36-year-old Utah County man has filed a personal injury
>>>>> lawsuit against the owners of the Wienerschnitzel at the corner of
>>>>> North Temple and 800 West in Salt Lake City.
>>
>>>>> The complaint contends that on June 9, 2009, Reynolds — who had been
>>>>> on his way to the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind — got off a
>>>>> bus near the Wienerschnitzel to get a meal. As the 6-foot-5 man
>>>>> navigated toward the entrance with his cane swinging in front of him,
>>>>> he hit the tree, which the suit contends had encroached on the
>>>>> sidewalk.
>>
>>>>> “The tree struck him squarely in the face and knocked him to the
>>>>> ground,” states the suit, filed Tuesday. “The tree was allowed to grow
>>>>> in such a way that it was impossible for Mr. Reynolds to detect its
>>>>> presence by use of his cane.”
>>
>>>>> The suit argues that because the tree was “rooted in the ground far to
>>>>> one side of the sidewalk and [had grown] diagonally across the
>>>>> sidewalk,” it had become a “clear hazard.”
>>
>>>>> Reynolds seeks unspecified reimbursement for past and future medical
>>>>> expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering stemming from alleged
>>>>> negligence in the maintenance of the tree.
>>
>>>>> Along with Grundmann Enterprises of South Jordan, the owner of the
>>>>> eatery, Reynolds’ 3rd District Court suit names Salt Lake City Corp.
>>>>> and five John Does as defendants. Reynolds seeks a jury trial; 3rd
>>>>> District Judge Sandra Peuler has been assigned the case.
>>
>>>>> Daniel J. Grundmann of Grundmann Enterprises declined to comment
>>>>> Wednesday, noting he had not yet been served with the suit.
>>
>>>>> Tom Amberger, vice president of marketing for Irvine, Calif.-based
>>>>> Galaradi Group Inc., which runs Wienerschnitzel, also declined to
>>>>> discuss the case. “We are unaware of this lawsuit and will look into
>>>>> it,” he said.
>>
>>>>> Ed Rutan, city attorney for Salt Lake City, would not comment, either,
>>>>> citing the pending nature of the litigation.
>>
>>
>>>>> __._,_.___
>>
>>
>>>>> --
>>>>> Arielle Silverman
>>>>> President, National Association of Blind Students
>>>>> Phone:  602-502-2255
>>>>> Email:
>>>>> nabs.president at gmail.com
>>>>> Website:
>>>>> www.nabslink.org
>>
>>>>> _______________________________________________
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>>
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