Guerra v. West LA College
On April 30, 2020, the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of students with disabilities seeking access to West Los Angeles College (WLAC).
The Ninth Circuit found that requiring students with disabilities to access their education in ways that remained after the shuttle was stopped was an unfair burden on them because of their disabilities. As a result, the District Court will need to evaluate what reasonable steps WLAC can take to provide equal access, such as the shuttle service that the college used previously to provide access to all students, staff, and visitors with disabilities.
The original lawsuit was filed on September 20, 2016 in federal district court, alleging violations of state and federal anti-discrimination laws that require public entities to provide people with disabilities meaningful access to their programs and services, against West Los Angeles College (WLAC) on behalf of plaintiff students with mobility disabilities, Charles Guerra, Chrystal, and Karlton Bontrager. WLAC is a community college in Culver City located on a hill with steep, uneven terrain that people with mobility disabilities experience difficulty traversing. WLAC previously operated a campus shuttle that prioritized service to students with disabilities, allowing plaintiffs to safely reach all areas of the campus. WLAC terminated the campus last year. Without the shuttle service, plaintiffs have experienced extreme hardship, humiliation and injury, and are at risk of being unable to complete their education.
Case Name: Guerra et al. v. West Los Angeles College et al
Court and Case Number: 2:16-cv-06796-MWF (KSx)
Judge: Hon. Michael W. Fitzgerald
Co-counsel: Disability Rights Advocates, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP
Significant Court Documents
Charles Anthony Guerra is a U.S. Army veteran who received an honorable discharge after sustaining a severe injury, has undergone major surgery for a spinal cord condition, and has limited ability to walk. Mr. Guerra has repeatedly fallen, experienced pain, and been injured in attempting to traverse the steep, uneven WLAC campus.
Chrystal is returning to school after several years of caring for her own medical condition and serving as her mother’s primary caregiver. She experiences constant back and leg pain, has difficulty walking, and uses an oxygen tank that she must cart along beside her to assist with breathing. Without campus transit, she has been forced to withdraw from and miss classes, and fears she will be unable to continue her studies.
Karlton Bontrager is a part-time public library volunteer who, like the other plaintiffs, is studying to become an Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. He sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury in a serious accident that resulted in various conditions including weakness and limited mobility, impaired balance and vision, and fatigue. He has difficulty and limps in walking, which has caused him to fall down and be late for classes since WLAC terminated the campus shuttle.
- Trial set in LA disabled students' suit alleging community college blocked their education KPCC, 10/16/2017
- WLAC sued over Americans with Disabilities Act 'violation' Culver City News, 12/4/2017
- 'Regresen el shuttle a las escuelas' La Opinion, 1/11/2018
- Discapacitados demandan al colegio comunitario West Los Angeles La Opinion, 9/24/2016