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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mediation in Bay Area Nuisance Suit

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families.

Tracy Seipel reports at The San Jose Mercury News:
In a quickly dispatched hearing on Tuesday in a case that has riled Bay Area parents of developmentally disabled children, a Santa Clara County judge sent an autistic boy's parents and two Sunnyvale couples who claim the boy is a public nuisance back to mediation.

In the Civil Court hearing where Sunnyvale neighbors sought the boy's medical and school records, Superior Court Judge Maureen Folan admonished them, asking the two couples and the parents their ultimate goal: To find a solution or continue with litigation?

All the families said they wanted a solution so all agreed to the judge's suggestion that they arrange mediation with another judge, which is expected to happen in October.
Jill Escher, president of the San Francisco Bay Area Autism Society, and a parent of two autistic children, has called the lawsuit an outrage.

She and other parents say they fear that it the suit is successful, families with autistic children could be run out of neighborhoods everywhere, based on a "public nuisance'' claim.

In a blog post on the society's website Monday, Escher said that despite what the plaintiffs say, this case is very much about autism -- and discrimination.

"We all have a right to be protected from harm, I could not agree more,'' Escher wrote.

"But given that the family left the neighborhood a year ago, that no adverse events are alleged to have occurred for more than a year and a half, and that no actual injuries are even alleged as to the plaintiffs, this case is no longer about reasonable steps to ensure protection from a developmentally disabled child.

"By seeking draconian forms relief including a "public nuisance" declaration, the case has moved squarely into the realm of disability eviction and discrimination. This case is very much about autism.''