According to The LA Times, the city of Los Angeles, California, has discriminated against people with disabilities by not including them in their emergency preparedness plans, according to a federal judge. In the event of a disaster, Los Angeles will be unable to tend to the needs of any disabled persons in the city.
There are an estimated of 800,000 disabled Los Angeles residents, on whose behalf several disability-rights groups sued the city. Consuelo B. Marshall, a U.S. District Court Judge determined that L.A. does not have a plan in place to both notify and evacuate disabled individuals. The city also does not have any way to provide them with both transportation and shelter in the event of an emergency.
Judge Marshall wrote that “because of the city’s failure to address their unique needs,” disabled individuals will be more “vulnerable to harm in the event of an emergency or a disaster.” The judge also added that the Los Angeles Department on Disability reported back in 2008 that disabled individuals were “at risk for suffering and death in disproportionate numbers” in the event of an emergency.
City attorneys argued that the lawsuit claimed hypothetical situations and that the responsibility was not theirs, but rather the responsibility of the American Red Cross. They also argued that the disabled should carry some of their own burden, and that disabled persons, just as any capable person, should have personal plans for an emergency.
Judge Marshall ruled in favor of the disabled-rights groups, claiming that the city should be “open and accessible to all of its residents.”