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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

City Not Liable for Blind Jogger’s Fall Into Hole

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A federal judge dismissed a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by a legally blind jogger against a city, finding that the jogger could not prove malice when she fell into a deep, unmarked hole in a park.

Emily Johnson, 28, claimed that the city should have put up warnings as well as covered and barricaded a hole where two city employees were working on the sprinkler system in Portland's Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

While anyone could have been injured falling into the hole, Johnson claimed the lack of safety measures taken by the city demonstrated specific discrimination against people who are visually impaired.

But District Judge Robert Jones found that she failed to show that the city discriminated against her "solely on the basis of disability."

Jones wrote that there was not any history of disability discrimination cases where "an entity was held liable in absence of any evidence that the entity even knew about the plaintiff, let alone his or her disability, before the alleged discrimination occurred."

"I conclude that there is no evidence from which a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that the City discriminated against plaintiff "solely by reason of her disability," Jones wrote.

He also dismissed the negligence claim against the city with prejudice, citing the Public Uses of Land Act, which limits the city's liability toward people using the land for recreational purposes.

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