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BMB Settles ADA Lawsuit in Summit County

From: The Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com
By Emily Mills
The county will pay an Akron man $15,000 and make improvements to the county parking deck after he sued the county over the deck’s accessibility.
Summit County Council on Monday passed a resolution authorizing the county executive to execute the settlement agreement with Spencer Neal of Akron, who has spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. He uses a wheelchair, as he is paralyzed from the waist down, according to the lawsuit.
According to the resolution, the county executive and Neal reached the terms of an agreement to settle his complaint, which includes a payment not exceeding $15,000 and an agreement that the county will make modifications to the parking deck that must be completed by Aug. 1, 2022. A cost estimate of the modifications was not available.
Neal will dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning it can’t be refiled.
The civil rights suit, filed in federal court in June 2018, asserts the county is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 at the Summit County Parking Deck, 200 S. High St.
Neal’s attorney, Colin Meeker, said Neal is pleased with the outcome of the settlement negotiations with the county.
“As a disability-based civil rights activist and a patron of the Summit County Parking Deck on High Street, Mr. Neal is content knowing that Summit County will remediate certain barriers to access which made it difficult for him when traversing the deck,” Meeker said in an email. “It is his goal that all public and private entities will educate themselves on the requirements of the Americans with [Disabilities] Act so that he, and the rest of the disabled community, can go everywhere and do all the same things that mobile people can do on a daily basis.”
Greta Johnson, the county’s public information officer, said modifications already made to the parking deck include re-striping the van accessible spaces in the deck, moving signs and enclosing pipes, with future work to include improvements to the pedestrian ramp inside the deck and the pedestrian walkway.
“We take accessibility very seriously and are working to improve accessibility in the parking deck and everywhere people need to be in the county,” Johnson said.
According to the suit, Neal works as a runner for the law firm Blakemore, Meeker & Bowler Co., the firm that filed the suit on Neal’s behalf. He is responsible for filing court documents with various courts in the county.
The suit states Neal visited the parking deck twice in June 2018, along with other subsequent visits, and found it didn’t have accessible parking for him, with “numerous serious architectural barriers to access” in violation of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.
Neal found handicap-accessible parking was not available on all floors of the deck, the suit states, with spaces on one floor inaccessible and occupied and spaces on another floor occupied.
″[Neal] kept on driving to find accessible parking, and not having another choice, finally double parked in two general parking spaces so as to no[t] become blocked in,” the suit states. “It is discriminatory and unfair to put [Neal] at risk of parking tickets in order to utilize the Facility.”
The suit states travel is taxing on Neal’s body because negotiating inaccessible areas requires twisting of the spine and overuse of shoulders and wrists, along with wear and tear on his wheelchair.
″...[T]hese various barriers to access dishearten and frustrate him,” the suit states.
The suit claims the county discriminated against Neal and others with disabilities by failing to remove architectural barriers, calling the deck ”...inaccessible to disabled persons.”
An amended complaint filed in October 2018 lists nearly 130 violations related to the parking deck, ranging from not having enough accessible parking spaces at locations throughout the deck and accessible spaces having barriers to issues with people with mobility aids having to travel in traffic lanes and elevator buttons being too high.
“The ADA violations described above make wheelchair use dangerous, and difficult — or impossible — for [Neal] and other qualified individuals with disabilities to travel safely to and from the Facility, and within the Facility,” the suit states.

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Recovering your security deposit - and more.

By Freeland D. Oliverio, Esq.

If you have ever had a lease on a house or apartment, you likely understand that dealing with landlords - especially when it concerns your security deposit - can be difficult to say the least. In college, I had several friends who left old leases and were forced to wait several months without hearing a word from their old landlords regarding their security deposits. Many of these friends, when they did finally get their security deposit, found the landlord had given them a mere fraction of what they had put down, with no explanation as to why the landlord had kept part of the deposit.

Unbeknownst to these friends, Ohio has a law that addresses such landlord-tenant issues. In fact, under Ohio laws, tenants may be able to recover up to twice the amount of their original security deposit if certain conditions are met.

Under Ohio Revised Code 5321.16, a landlord is allowed to use a tenant’s security deposit to satisfy any past due rent, or to fix damages to the property. However, in order to do so, the landlord is required to do the following:

  1. The landlord must itemize and list any deductions made from the security deposit. 
  2. The landlord must send this itemized list of deductions and the remainder of the deposit to the former tenant. 
  3. The landlord must accomplish this within 30 days after the termination of the rental agreement and delivery of the property back to the landlord. 
If the landlord fails to abide by these requirements, the tenant may recover double the amount of money wrongfully held by the landlord, plus attorney fees.

However, there is one important catch to all of this. In order to recover against a landlord, the tenant must send to them, in writing, the new forwarding address to which the security deposit may be sent. If a tenant fails to do so, he or she will be unable to recover.

So, let’s assume a tenant puts down $1,000 as a security deposit to the landlord. Once the tenant’s lease is up, he emails his landlord a forwarding address where the landlord can send the security deposit. 31 days after moving out, the landlord has refused to give the tenant any portion of the security deposit, and has provided no itemized list of damages to the tenant. The tenant in this scenario could hire an attorney to recover $2,000, plus any attorney fees accrued during this litigation.

If you have any questions about landlord-tenant law, or think that you may be entitled to recover your security deposit, please call BMB today for a free consultation.

Freeland D. Oliverio, Esq.    
Blakemore, Meeker, & Bowler Co., L.P.A.
495 Portage Lakes Dr.
Akron, OH 44319
[Email]: foliverio@bmblaw.com
[Office]: (330) 253-3337
[Cell]: (330) 760-2494


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7 STEPS IN CASE OF A CAR ACCIDENT
by: Attorney Blaise R. Meeker


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Drug dealer guilty in women’s death

By Blakemore, Meeker & Bowler Co., LPA
June 17, 2016

A local drug dealer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after he sold drugs to a 21-year old female causing her death in March 2015, reports the Akron Beacon Journal. The victim’s mother stated, “As a society, we need to stand together and let these dealers know we’re done. She said, “We’re done putting up with them on our streets, stealing the lives of our loved ones.” Colin G. Meeker, a personal injury lawyer who also represents victims of crime, said: “This is unfortunate what occurred here, and I hope that the sentence will help the victim’s family to begin to heal. However, we cannot forget how the vast majority of people become addicted to heroin, by first becoming addicted to opiate painkillers. Physicians and pharmacists owe their patients a certain standard of care. If they fall below it and patients are harmed, doctors are liable. This applies to prescriptions just like any other type of medicine. Doctors can be negligent if they failed to notice you or a loved one’s developing addiction or prescribed an incorrect drug or dosage.”

Physicians often play a significant role in creating the perfect storm that is opiate addiction. Before demanding a prescription for a powerful narcotic drug, consult with your physician about risks and available treatment alternatives.          

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ATTENTION ALL MILLENNIALS: 

Did you know that people born from 1975 to 1995 are called "Millennials"? Sometimes we're called "Gen Next" and other times were called Generation Y. Regardless, we're in the heyday of our lives and hopefully, on our way to reaching our prime earning potential. Some of us have families, careers, and homes. Others might be single, trying to make a name for themselves, or living life on the wild side. No matter where you fall in the spectrum of life, you may want to slow down for a moment and consider your demise.

Face it, at some point in each of our lives, we will go onto that next great adventure in the sky, hopefully many many years from now. Unfortunately, tragedy can occur at any moment, leaving you and your loved ones in a tight spot. Taking a few simple actions now can prevent disaster down the line, protecting both you and your family's interests. Just remember:


"Perfect Planning Prevents Possible Problems." 

So how can you plan for the future now? By developing an Estate Plan! Simply put, an Estate Plan ensures that your wishes are carried out when you die. From controlling who will receive your assets when you pass to how you want to be taken care of if you become sick, Estate Planning is for EVERYONE regardless of your age or wealth. Even more so if you have children. You want to decide who will raise your children if you pass. 

With that, I give you Meeker's top five THINGS TO CONSIDER when it comes to Millennials and Estate Planning: 

1.)  START TODAY, REGARDLESS OF YOUR NET WORTH OR AGE! 

Estate planning is a crucial process for everyone, regardless of wealth level or age. Some may believe that if they don't have many assets, then they don't need an estate plan. Others believe that they can wait until their older to create their plan. These misconceptions are FALSE and DANGEROUS! You may not need an Estate Plan for years to come, but unfortunately, you may need one as early as tomorrow. We all have assets and some of us have children. We all want to control what happens to us if we become ill or in a vegetative state. Spending the time and money now on creating an Estate Plan will protect everything and everyone you care about for years to come.
  
2.)  DRAFT A WILL! 

We all want to decide where our assets go in the event of an untimely death. A will sets your wishes in stone. A simple will is very affordable and can be completed with an attorney in no time. Without a will, state intestacy laws kick in, and your assets will be distributed by the terms of a statute and not by your own personal desires. Wills are also used to declare who will have guardianship over your children should you pass. Once your assets grow, I would recommend a revocable living trust. This trust keeps your estate out of the probate court system at death or incapacity, while offering many additional benefits.  

3.)  GET A POWER OF ATTORNEY AND A LIVING WILL! 

These two documents are essential. A Power of Attorney authorizes another person to obtain your health information and to make health care decisions for you when you cannot make healthcare decision for yourself. A Living Will documents your wishes regarding life-sustaining treatment and whether that treatment should be withheld if you are unable to make informed medical decisions and are in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state. These documents are inexpensive and take very little time to complete with an attorney. They allow you to make critical medical and life-ending decisions now while you are coherent, rather then having someone else make them for you when you are not.

4.)  CONSIDER A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY! 

Your employer may offer you group life insurance coverage. But is that enough? Most employer-sponsored life insurance policies will get you through the funeral process and that's it. Your family will still be left with debt, expenses, and not knowing who will pay for Jr.'s college. Especially if you are married or have kids, consider an individual life insurance policy. For us Millennials, I recommend term life insurance. Term life insurance provides coverage at a fixed rate of payments for a limited period of time. It is the least expensive way to purchase a substantial death benefit over a specific period of time. If tragedy struck, you could enter the pearly gates knowing that your family will be provided for.  

5.)  KNOW WHO YOU DESIGNATED AS A BENEFICIARY! 

Many of us may have jobs that provide fringe benefits, such as a pension plan or a life insurance policy. Under these plans, you receive the chance to decide who will receive the plan's benefit when you pass, a.k.a. a beneficiary. So make sure that you listed someone as a beneficiary! You want your money to go to the person who you decide. Second, make sure that you update your beneficiary accordingly. With the divorce rate skyrocketing, you might roll over in your grave should your ex receive the benefits from your life insurance policy or retirement plan all because you forgot to update your beneficiary.               

A lot of us think we're immortal, or at least we act that way by not planning for the eventuality of our unexpected death. The fact is, you never know what's going to happen. It's a good idea to make sure you have things organized the way you want them to be.


THE GRAND FINALE...


Hopefully you’re convinced! Even though you’re young and healthy, the responsible and smart thing to do is to take care of your estate planning — not just for you, but for your loved ones as well. But how do you take the next step?

Contact
Attorney Colin G. Meeker 

for a free consultation!

Office: (330) 253-3337
Cell: (330) 603-7173

cgm@bmblaw.com

Blakemore, Meeker & Bowler Co., L.P.A.
Attorneys at Law
39 E. Market St., Suite 301
Akron, OH 44308

Visit us at www.bmblaw.com

At your service:

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