Accessibility Plaintiff Charged With Fraud
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 17, 2006
SAN BERNARDINO, CALIFORNIA--A woman who filed lawsuits accusing public entities of discriminating against people with disabilities apparently does not have a disability.
Earlier this month, Laura Lee Medley was arrested and charged with filing false documents, attempted grand theft, and insurance fraud -- after she got up from a wheelchair and ran away from Las Vegas police.
Authorities say the 35-year-old Alhambra woman was a con artist.
She filed three separate lawsuits in 2005 against San Bernardino County, South Pasadena and Long Beach each time claiming that she broke an arm when her wheelchair fell over after a transit bus dropped her off near a roadway or curb that was not accessible under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Last October, South Pasadena settled Medley's claim for $6,700.
Las Vegas police picked Medley up on May 4 on arrest warrants for forgery in Arizona and fraud in California. When she complained of medical problems, officers took her to a local hospital, where she reportedly jumped out of the wheelchair and ran until police caught up with her.
Mary Johnson, editor of the Ragged Edge Magazine, commented on her weblog Friday that the way Medley's story is being told plays right into the hands of those who want to limit the rights of citizens with disabilities.
Johnson also pointed out that, unfortunately, people with disabilities are often in the unfortunate position of having to prove their disabilities when they claim that they have been discriminated against.
"When we consider the numbers of people injured, even killed, because they must travel in the streets because cities have failed to install curb cuts, so they can't get up onto the curbs and are forced to travel in the street," wrote Johnson, "we can either condemn Medley for the grifter she apparently is, have a good laugh, and put the whole thing out of our minds -- or we can think about the deeper issue here, the one that's not getting any media play: what about all the people who really are disabled and use wheelchairs out of necessity, who have things like this happen to them?"
"Claimant faked disability for cash, officials charge" (Pasadena Star-News)
"The story they've all been waiting for" by Mary Johnson (Ragged Edge Magazine)