WHEN we founded "Access Now" in March of 1998, we never imagined we would come this far, this fast. However, with your help and with the dedication of the extraordinary members of our Officers/Executive Committee (7), the enthusiasm of the distinguished members of our Board of Directors (43), the brilliance of our outstanding attorneys (10 law firms), the expertise of our superb ADA consultants (6 firms), and the knowledgeable service of our tireless ADA inspectors (2), we have grown and we have achieved a great deal! We are proud to say that we now have over 500 members, both disabled as well as able-bodied, stretching from coast to coast of the U.S.A.!
We are pleased to announce that we have three new additions to our Board of Directors: Erez Barnavon, Sanford H. Blum and Congressman William Lehman (Ret.)
1. National and Regional Dept. Stores - Major progress has been made with regard to many, many stores. Among them are included Macy’s, Burdine’s, Lord and Taylor, Sears, Claire’s, Brookstone and several others. As to Sears, substantial modifications have been made at the Sears located on Coral Way at Douglas Road in Coral Gables, Florida and they will serve as a guide which all other Sears stores will follow as closely as possible. From the Sears company perspective, it was admitted that the modifications have made their store more "shoppable" (Sears’ term) and have significantly increased revenue at that location, appealing to both the non-disabled as well as the disabled, which is a point which AN has long been trying to get across to all the entities with which it is engaged. AN strongly urges its local members to shop at that Sears and to make known their positive feelings about the improved experience!
2. Cruise Lines - Following several months of negotiations, Carnival Cruise Lines and AN have entered into a Settlement (pending only Department of Justice and Department of Transportation approvals) covering all 18 ships which Carnival docks in the United States as well as ships not yet on the drawing boards. Since the Appellate Court of the 11th Judicial Circuit has held that the A.D.A. does apply even to foreign-flagged vessels, so long as they make ports of call within the U.S., we believe that this settlement has real teeth and should be very instrumental in strengthening our case against the other cruise lines which we have already sued! We expect publication of this settlement shortly. We are indebted to and so proud of our attorney in this case, Matthew Dietz!
3. Hospitals - Our two major, nationwide, class-action suits, against HCA (formerly known as Columbia) and Tenet are now settled! (These two settlements comprise over 700 acute-care, in/outpatient, rehab facilities and medical office buildings.) The HCA entities throughout the nation are being inspected by our experts and modified according to the A.D.A.,and as each one comes into compliance, the settlement on that entity will be signed. As to Tenet, the settlement is even more "global" in concept, in that it has already been agreed in advance of inspection of each facility that Tenet is committed to a settlement (although inspections by our experts will continue).. This case was highly praised by the Federal District Court Judge sitting on it as “precedent-setting” and a “benchmark” and the Judge made extremely complimentary remarks to ALL involved, saying that he was proud to have been involved himself and deeming it a "privilege"! Additionally, the lead attorney on the Tenet side, an eminent 30-year veteran as a practitioner, activist and professor in the field of Class-Action, Civil Rights litigation, similarly made extraordinarily complimentary remarks to AN and to our counsel. He felt also that this case would join the list of some of the most important civil-rights litigation settlements of the last 30 years or so! Tenet’s in-house counsel added that AN exhibits a rare (his word) combination of zealous advocacy with an understanding of the needs of businesses. The Judge urged wide publication of this landmark settlement in a variety of venues and we eagerly await that very soon. We are indebted to and so proud of our attorneys who are handling both these cases, Miguel M. de la O and David Marko!
4. Disney World, Universal and Seaworld - The lawsuits against these three entities have been filed and are proceeding.
5. Pro Player Stadium - (Formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium) - This lawsuit has been filed and is proceeding.
6. We are at various stages of progression in a variety of cases, including movie theatres, stores, restaurants, hotels, banks, taxicab companies, counties, cities, etc.
We are also very pleased to report that at a recent meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General of the 50 states of the nation, regarding cruise ships, "Access Now" was the only advocacy organization asked to testify. Upon completion of the meeting, AN was highly complimented about its testimony and its work by several of the Attorneys General, including those representing Florida, and by the Assistant Attorney General heading the Civil Rights Division of the Florida Attorney General’s office, who stated that the work of "Access Now" is well known and well regarded by their office, and who offered us any needed assistance which we might have in the future.
We are also very happy to report that, by virtue of arrangements made by our intrepid V.P., Marilynn Bloom, Phyllis and Edward Resnick were interviewed by a class of students at Miami Beach Senior High School, in connection with one of Marilynn’s Dade County Public Schools Intergenerational programs. It was an extraordinarily gratifying experience to help raise the consciousness of these serious young students and to answer their thoughtful and sensitive questions. Much appreciation is due to Marilynn for this occurrence!
We take great pride in "Access Now" ‘s accomplishments and we thank all of you for your continued support of our mission and of our ongoing effort to grow!
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