Court Scolds City On Handicapped Ramp

Posted By The Miami Herald | 28-Jul-1987

The city of Key West created “a trap” for a wheelchair—bound Miami man who was hit by a car while he was searching for an access ramp to a Duval Street sidewalk, an appeal court has ruled.

Donald Feldstein, 41, a vocational counselor for disabled patients at Jackson Memorial Hospital was unwittingly lured into danger when he rolled his wheelchair down one access ramp at Olivia and Duval streets and was confronted by a foot-high curb at the opposite corner, the Third District Court of Appeal ruled last week.

Unable to get his heavy motorized wheelchair over the curb, he headed south on Duval, with his back to traffic, and was struck by a car which crushed his legs and right hip.

The appeal court reversed the October decision of Circuit Judge Helio Gomez, who dismissed the suit after he ruled the city wasn’t negligent in not providing an access ramp at the southwest corner of Olivia and Duval.

“To provide a handicapped person access to a crosswalk without providing such person egress from the crosswalk is to place the handicapped person is special jeopardy,” the appeals court wrote.

Feldstein’s attorney Stephen Malove said he was elated by the decision. Feldstein, dependent on a wheelchair since he contracted polio at age 4, lost the little mobility he had after the Key West accident on Nov. 26, 1983, Malove said.
“I believe justice has been done, “Malove said. “I believe the city of Key West created a trap. I don’t know what they expected Mr. Feldstein to do, in a dark and rainy night, when they in effect invited him into the street by putting a curb cut in the northwest corner. On the other side, they say, ‘sorry, buddy, figure it out yourself? ‘ ’’
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