Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 20, 2007
LAW: The ADA in Action

Oh, it must be a proud day for the framers of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

A man who was fired by IBM for visiting an adult chat room at work is suing the company for $5 million, claiming he is an Internet addict who deserves treatment and sympathy rather than dismissal.

James Pacenza, 58, of Montgomery says he visits chat rooms to treat traumatic stress incurred in 1969 when he saw his best friend killed during an Army patrol in Vietnam.

In papers filed in federal court in White Plains, Pacenza said the stress caused him to become "a sex addict, and with the development of the Internet, an Internet addict." He claimed protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Of course, he casually defames Vietnam vets in the process, with his claim that combat stress forced him into frequenting sex chat rooms at work.

UPDATE: Overlawyered has more on the case.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:13 PM | Law 2006-08 | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)

Just another "victim" who is looking for anyone other than himself to take responsiblity for his actions. It is a tragedy that he saw his friend die, but ultimately we are responsible for our actions regardless of how much we try to wiggle out and blame someone or something else.

Posted by: maddirishman at February 21, 2007 9:50 AM

Obviously the case will be dismissed forthwith, with little expense to IBM. So, in the larger scheme of things, who cares?

Posted by: Steve at February 21, 2007 12:04 PM

Wait, I just checked the docket sheets. There is a summary judgment motion. I don't know how the case got past a Rule 12 motion to dismiss, unless IBM did not make a motion. Maybe they should have.

Posted by: steve at February 21, 2007 12:09 PM

I've never been on a case with the ADA or a similar statute.

But if the complaint pleads a viable ADA claim, theoretically questions of fact surrounding his "disability" are best left for post-discovery motions.

Posted by: Mike at February 21, 2007 2:17 PM

Representing a client on an ADA claim, I was told by an EEO agency investigator that virtually all ADA claims her agency handles are "mental disabilities" - is anyone surprised by that?

Posted by: Chas at February 21, 2007 2:24 PM

Mike , by 'mental disabilities' - you mean the most common form of claim in nuisance lawsuits is a vague and unprovable one dependent on the filer's assertions about himself - the mental equivalent of occassional lower back pain? Wonders never cease.

Posted by: Bensdad00 at February 21, 2007 4:24 PM

Bensdad - I don't know about the "mental disabilities." That was Chas's statement.

But questions of fact are not supposed to be determined by a Motion to Dismiss. You think most claims are phony. They may well be, but that's what discovery is for.

Posted by: Mike at February 21, 2007 11:15 PM

I actually had to read the entire act, since an architect had to know those things. I found a few things surprising:

1. The majority of people who are considered disabled are actually hearing impaired.

2. We think of wheelchair bound people as a large number, but in fact, while wheelchair access is mandated, they are really small numbers.

3. The intent was equal opportunity, but there was little wiggle room for common sense. A Minnesota case years ago showed that: A man wanted to be a copy editor, but was blind. The courts ruled that a reasonable accomodation was for the publisher to hire another person, at company expense, to read to their new employee.

You can't use the American Psychiatric Association to decide what counts for disability. They are crazier than the rest. Somehow, there has to be a doctrine of common sense.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at February 22, 2007 3:20 PM

I don't think ADA lawsuits should be permitted on the basis of mental illnesses; that's where an enormous amoung of the abuse takes place. At a minimum, the DOL should be given expanded authority to promulgate a definitive list of ADA-covered disabilities, so you can't sue for something not on the list.

Posted by: The Crank at February 22, 2007 3:52 PM

DOL should be given expanded authority to promulgate a definitive list of ADA-covered disabilities, so you can't sue for something not on the list.

I'm not as hyped as you to defang the statute, but this suggestion allows for one thing at least: well-defined matters of law, appropriate to decide upon 12(b)(6).

Posted by: Mike at February 22, 2007 4:20 PM

I'm sorry, but the antagonistic leaning you insist upon laely really shows here.

You can't possibly be saying that the ADA is a reason this country is where it is today. You can't be saying there's nothing of worth in it, right?

But you are - since you so boldly use it in your headline. And since this SO OBVIOUSLY CRAZY lawsuit - which will also so obviously be thrown out on it's merit - might actually try to use it... well....

All you serve here - like many posts lately - is to take us neocons and force us to wince when we read what you write. Soon, that wincing will escalate to pushing us away.


Posted by: DaveD at February 22, 2007 8:08 PM

"All you serve here - like many posts lately - is to take us neocons and force us to wince when we read what you write. Soon, that wincing will escalate to pushing us away.


What strain of neocons sign out: "Peace"?

Trust me, DaveD, "us neocons" are doing a lot more wincing from your 2 posts than anything Crank has put out.

Nuke the Whales,

Posted by: Maryland Conservatarian at February 22, 2007 10:55 PM

Is this the time to start a flame war by asserting that the government has no business mandating a certain number of parking spots for bad drivers? :-)

Posted by: largebill at February 23, 2007 11:42 AM

I guess here is the place to mention that the ADA would not be nearly so odious if it didn't have the reach given to it by the 14th Amendment - i.e. it would only apply to federally owned buildings or federal worksites save for the 14th

Posted by: Bensdad00 at February 23, 2007 2:47 PM

If you really want to be technical, Bensdad, don't blame the poor 14th Amendment (which has had needles stuck into it under cover of darkness for goodness sake). Blame the nasty SCOTUS over the course of the 20th Century as it officially "incoprorated" the entire Bill Of Rights into the 14th Amendment's scope.

Not saying I agree or disagree, but let's stop impugning the 14th! Good God, man, it only wanted to help! ;-)

Posted by: Mike at February 23, 2007 2:53 PM

ok no more impugning the 14th - how about we start in on the Warren Court? Between the shady Chief, the miranda and brown v/ Boarsd decisions and seating Thurgood Marshall, no good seems to have come from it.

Posted by: Bensdad00 at February 23, 2007 4:09 PM

Frankly, Bensdad, I can't even begin to imagine what Thurgood Marshall did that made him unsuitable as a Justice in your eyes.

And I don't want to know either.

And while Brown v. Board of Ed had its shaky moments jurisprudentially, I think it's beyond absurd to complain about it. The result was far too important to let anything get in its way. Anyone who tries to argue -- in 2007! -- against legally-guaranteed racial integration isn't even worth listening to.

You might as well start talking to me about Phrenetics or Creationism.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2007 1:21 PM

I should have said "phenology." Sorry.

Posted by: Mike at February 24, 2007 1:23 PM

The brown decision was harmful in so many ways that i shall only summarize - it exacerbated (not caused) the white flight that harmed inner cities across the country in the 60's and 70's; it harmed the environment through the mandatory bussing laws that stemmed from it and the growth of rich white suburban school districts that grew up in part to avoid it; it fed the insatiable ego of lower level federal judges who have been 'supervizing' the implementation of integration orders (the school board in the Brown case is still - over 40 years later - under supervision).

Lastly, it has fed and fostererd the liberal belief that federally forced integration was a healthy thing, regardless of the myriad evidence rebutting such an unfounded myth.

Since this has gone wildly off-topic, I invite you to email me to continue this discussion in a different forum, Mike.

Posted by: Bensdad00 at February 24, 2007 6:35 PM
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