By Alec Brooks of Kazerouni Law Group, APC on Wednesday, April 5, 2017.
Bank of America’s Chicago Marathon will be celebrating its 40th anniversary this October. Over 40,000 people from all over the world will head to the “Windy City” to compete in the race known for its mostly flat and speedy course. The marathon is an important part of Chicago culture considering it takes its participants through 29 different neighborhoods and promotes unity throughout the city. On the official website, the marathon is described as a, “People’s race anyone can come and enjoy.” One young woman, Arianna Tanghe, doesn’t see it that way.
Arianna was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Despite her physical limitations, Arianna has still managed to participate in 40 half marathons, four full marathons, and two triathlons through the help of a custom made racing wheelchair and her mother Kelli. Kelli pushes Arianna in the racing wheelchair for the entire 26.2 mile route as a “duo team” known as “Team Ari.” Arianna will not be given the opportunity to race in this year’s Chicago Marathon due to a selection process which only allows six duo teams to enter. Arianna and Kelli believe this selection process puts people who need the assistance of a pusher to compete at a disadvantage and violates the ADA (Americans
with Disabilities Act).
KLG managing partner Abbas Kazerounian has taken on Tanghe’s case and will be representing the mother daughter team as part of a class action lawsuit against Bank of America. The complaint points out that the limit enforced on duo teams by the defendant is unnecessary and serves no clear purpose. There are 45,000 possible slots available, yet the only group singled out and severely restricted are the duo teams. The selection process is also problematic for duo teams because the lottery accepts them much later than the general field, which leaves limited time and space for lodging and travel accommodations during one of Chicago’s busiest weekends.
A limit exists for racers in pushrim wheelchairs, however the limit is much higher than the one placed on duo teams. Seemingly the marathon could eliminate the distinction between pushrim contestants and duo teams and install one larger cap for all wheelchair contestants without much hassle at all – yet they don’t. This could be seen as a form of ableism. The discrimination of disabled persons has been the center of more and more lawsuits lately, including one which dealt with the assault of a mentally disabled man in Idaho by his football teammates.
At KLG the majority of our cases involve unfair debt collection practices, but we will always step in when we feel like anyone is being mistreated anywhere. We’ve had cases dealing with bullies at school, verbally abusive salesmen, and mistreatment of the elderly. When it was brought to our attention that these athletes weren’t being given a fair shot to race due to physical limitations, we felt something needed to be done.