Legal Newsline

Monday, October 14, 2019

Legally blind law student now files discrimination suit against makers of LSAT

By Angela Underwood | Feb 26, 2018

DETROIT (Legal Newsline) – A civil rights lawsuit filed by a blind law student has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan after he unsuccessfully sued the American Bar Association.

After having his original complaint, which charged that the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) discriminated against blind law students due to spatial reasoning and diagram questions and was filed against the ABA, was barred by the U.S. Supreme Court, Angelo Binno is now suing the Law School Admission Council.

Shelesha Taylor is asking to be added to the complaint as a plaintiff-intervenor.

Both Binno and Taylor argue that the LSAT Analytical Reasoning section is discriminatory against blind students since it requires drawing diagrams to complete the portion of the test successfully. Though Binno filed his complaint first, Taylor “learned of plaintiff’s lawsuit against defendant on or about Oct. 17, 2017,” according to the December motion to intervene, and “she contacted counsel for plaintiff the next day and expressed an interest in participating in this litigation.”

Binno, who is considered legally blind due to a degenerative eye disorder, cannot successfully sketch or read any type of diagram; however, it did not keep the plaintiff from moving forward in his academic career until he attempted to take the LSAT.

“After graduating from college, Mr. Binno worked for the United States Department of Homeland Security, where he was granted a high-level security clearance and awarded a certificate of appreciation for his work,” according to the May complaint, adding Binno speaks English, Arabic and Chaldean fluently and acts as a translator immigrant refugees.

Binno argues that the fact that his achievements are moot in the eyes of LSAC administers, who administer a test that “reflect his impaired sensory skills,” have caused him permanent harm.

“LSAC’s acts in selecting the examination have harmed Mr. Binno by forcing him to take a discriminatory admission test and by erecting discriminatory barriers to his consideration for law school admission and scholarships,” according to the complaint.

Though Taylor’s motion to intervene doesn't reflect her academic career or alleged injury prior to taking the LSAT, it does report she suffers the same as Binno.

“Ms. Taylor has claims that share common questions of law and fact with plaintiff’s claims against defendant in this litigation, and intervention will not unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties’ rights,” according to the motion to intervene, adding “Ms. Taylor has a substantial legal interest in taking a nondiscriminatory law school admission test so she can compete on an equal footing for law school admission and scholarships.”

Both plaintiffs claim their arguments are valid under the Americans with Disabilities Act Titles III and V.

“Title III of the ADA requires any person that offers an examination related to applications for post-secondary education to offer the examination in a manner accessible to persons with disabilities or offer alternative accessible arrangements for such individuals,” according to Binno’s complaint, and, “Title V of the ADA makes it unlawful for any person to intentionally interfere with an individual in the exercise or enjoyment of any right protected by the ADA.”

She also argues that due to impairment and inadequate representation, she also has a right to join Binno’s complaint arguing “her ability to protect that substantial legal interest may be impaired if she is not allowed to intervene,” and as a proposed intervenor “the parties already before the court may not adequately protect her interest," according to the motion to intervene.

Binno’s complaint ends with his prayer for relief that would mandate LSAC excuse him from the LSAT’s Analytical Reasoning section at the next available testing and “report Mr. Binno’s raw score and percentile rank on each of the other scored sections of that test to law schools, and transmit his unscored writing sample to law schools in the same manner it does for all other test-takers,” according to the complaint, adding his attorneys’ fees and costs of action should be covered.

Taylor ends her motion to intervene asking the same, arguing “her three claims for relief are almost identical to plaintiff’s first three claims for relief."

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan