Lawyers pitch in to help a woman in need

first_img Lawyers pitch in to help a woman in need Associate EditorImagine loving to cook, but not being able to reach the dials on your stove.Imagine getting bruised and battered hoisting your body under the falling water of your bathroom shower.Imagine never feeling the breeze from your apartment balcony because you can’t get over the two-inch raised threshold.Imagine your arms aching just to get from one room to another, maneuvering over thick shag carpeting that feels like struggling slow motion through deep sand.That was the hellish routine for 40-year-old Felicia Omasta, who uses a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down ever since her mother accidentally shot her when she was a toddler.Two-and-a-half years ago, Omasta was grateful to move from subsidized housing to this two-bedroom condo in North Miami her father-in-law gave her and her husband and 6-year-old daughter. But being disabled in a place filled with barriers made her feel like a prisoner in her own home.Omasta, on federal disability, and her husband, a retired welder, could not afford to make the necessary renovations.“Someone should help this woman,” was the first thought that sprang to mind when Coral Gables attorney Matthew Dietz read about Omasta’s plight in the Miami Herald’s Christmas 2001 Wish List a year ago. She was asking for bathroom renovations.Dietz — a civil litigation attorney emphasizing disability discrimination law and other civil rights violations, chair-elect of the Bar’s Public Interest Law Section, and past chair of the Disability Law Committee — knew just what Omasta needed in the way of widened doorways and bathroom grab bars and accessible appliances. But unlike a cruise ship or a restaurant or any number of public places, he couldn’t take anyone to court to persuade the owners to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.For a split second, he felt helpless. Then he thought, “I can do this.”And he didn’t limit his vision of home improvements to just redoing her bathroom. Dietz was on a mission to make her whole apartment accessible.When he was turned down for help from corporate home-improvement stores and Habitat for Humanity, Dietz charged forward to get the job done himself, donning a hard hat and wielding a carpet cutter to change Omasta’s world.With a cadre of friends — including lawyers Jennifer Ross Schlussler, David Marko, Miguel de la O, Gregory Schwartz, and Matthew Slingbaum — help from empathetic clients; $10,000 from Access Now, the disabled advocacy group run by PILS members Phyllis and Edward Resnick; and donated services from architect Richard Londono the sawdust began flying December 12 at Omasta’s Buckley Towers condo.By New Year’s Day, the new stove had been installed, the doorways widened, the bathroom ripped apart and equipped with a roll-in shower, the walls reinforced to support grab bars. The shag carpeting was torn up and is being replaced with industrial-grade tile.Out came the drills and saws to remove that two-inch barrier between her living room and balcony.Dietz was there to witness the moment Omasta finally wheeled herself outside.“We had a big celebration to see her go out onto her balcony for the first time,” Dietz said. “We were cheering and clapping, and everyone surrounded Felicia as she smiled broadly as she and her daughter came out onto that balcony. She was extremely delighted. You can’t imagine living in an apartment and not being able to use it, to be able to look over at something that is yours and not be able to get to it. It was an incredible hindrance to being able to be a productive person.”As Omasta said: “It’s been hard to feel like a normal human being when I can’t even get around. It takes away your dignity.”Now, she said with a grin, “I feel like a kid at Christmas time,” and she told of her plans to cook a celebration dinner of lasagna and homemade bread, and teach her daughter how to bake chocolate chip cookies.By the end of January, all of the work should be completed, Dietz said, and he and his volunteer crew plan to have a painting party to put the bright finishing touches on Omasta’s walls.The lawyer who made it all happen is glowing.“This was one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done since I’ve become a lawyer,” said Dietz, who said he is inspired to start a law clinic to advise disabled clients at the South Florida Center for Independent Living on their rights in education, housing, accommodations, and employment, and where to find help.“One of the things I’ve learned from doing disability law is to focus on the clients’ abilities, the things they can do. When you free somebody up and take away barriers, it gives a person more time to focus on their abilities. It provides them with a life. The energy Felicia spent every day just trying to get around her apartment and doing things we take for granted, she can now spend time with her daughter and get outside,” Dietz said.“It made me feel glad that I could do something to help her other than what I do on the day-to-day—other than litigating, bringing complaints, and doing my legal work. It made me feel good using my expertise in going beyond what my practice is.“I’m just sorry I didn’t do it sooner. I wish I could have had it done last January. Now that I see that it is going through, I am so happy for her. I hope that this makes such a change in her life, and I know it will. It facilitates independence. It sets her free.” January 15, 2003 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Lawyers pitch in to help a woman in needlast_img read more

Brazil’s Neymar given four-game ban, out of tournament

first_imgBrazil captain Neymar has been handed a four-match ban, ruling him out of the remainder of this year’s Copa America.The striker was dismissed at the end of Brazil’s defeat by Colombia on Wednesday for his part in a fracas after the final whistle.CONMEBOL said in a statement it had suspended him “as a consequence of his dismissal and incidents after” the match at Santiago’s Monumental Stadium. Chilean referee Enrique Osses said in his report of the match that Neymar had waited for him in the tunnel and insulted him as he headed for the dressing rooms.CONMEBOL, which also fined the player $10,000, said Brazil had the right to appeal. The South Americans have one remaining group match, against Venezuela on Sunday and could then face three knockout matches if they reach the final.Neymar was central to the fracas at Monumental Stadium two days ago. After the final whistle he kicked the ball hard at an opponent. Colombia reacted angrily and almost every player on the pitch was involved in pushing and shoving. Colombia’s Carlos Bacca was also shown a red card and had been suspended for two matches, CONMEBOL said.Neymar’s absence will be a huge loss not just for Brazil but for the entire tournament. Along with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, he is the biggest name. He inspired Brazil to victory over Peru in their first Copa game before being frustrated by the Colombians in a tetchy re-run of their World Cup quarter-final last year. Neymar was taken off the ground on a stretcher with a broken vertebrae after a clumsy challenge by Colombia defender Juan Zuniga and in his absence, Brazil lost their semi-final 7-1 to Germany.–last_img read more


first_imgDONEGAL’S up and coming young talent put on a powerful second half display to see off the students of St Mary’s in the Dr McKenna Cup.There were senior debuts for Eoin McHugh and John O’Malley as Jim McGuinness continued his search for new stars for the All-Ireland winning squad in front of a spark crowd in Ballybofey.And O’Malley pointed on his debut, with Odhran MacNiallas grabbing a goal in the early stages of the first half. Just as the Donegal lads began to pull away, St Mary’s were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box which Brendan Herron netted.And it was the students who went in at the break ahead, leading 2-05 to to 1-07, a point to the good, with a second goal from Ronan Sexton.It was point for point in the second half with the teams square at one stage.MacNiallas was withdrawn but Donegal started to pull away in the final quarter, hitting five points in a row to lead 1-12 to 2-07. But the students weren’t finished and hit back again, squaring the game.St Mary’s had several attempts at goal when they should have taken their points – and had a penalty claim dismissed before they went a point into the lead.Ross Wherrity pointed for Donegal with five minutes to go before Conor Gibbons hit a great score to put the home side ahead in the game 1-14 to 2-10.The scoreboard had it as a draw….but for once it was wrong!Scorers for Donegal: O MacNiallais (1-3), J O’Malley (0-4, 3f), L Keaney (0-2), C Gibbons (0-2, 1f), P Mailey, S McGarvey, R Wherity (0-1) St Mary’s scorers: B Herron (1-5, 2f), R Sexton (1-2, 1f), B Hasson, L Doyle, S O’Neill (0-1)DONEGAL: P Boyle; P Carr, C Ward, A O’Gara; E McHugh, K McFadden, Cannon; L Keaney, C Cannon; P Mailey, J Carroll, M Cannon; O MacNiallais, R Wherity, J O’Malley. SUBS: C Gibbons for M Cannon (29), S McGarvey for Carroll (half-time), W Gillespie for MacNiallais (50), J Campbell for P Carr (66)ST MARY’S: D McAnenly; S Mullan, A Maguire, M Murray; R Loughan, C O’Hara, B Doyle, R O’Callaghan, B Hasson; R Sexton, B Herron, N Sludden; D McKinless, S O’Neill, J Duffy. SUBS C McMahon for Duffy (48), B o’Hagan and A McGarrity for Sexton and O’Callaghan (58), R McFarland for Doyle (33).Referee: D Connolly (Monaghan) DR McKENNA CUP: DONEGAL BEAT STUDENTS BY A POINT AS NEW STARS SHINE was last modified: January 17th, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalSt Mary’s Collegelast_img read more