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Blind Men Sue Route 40 Paintball Park

The group alleges in a federal lawsuit that the White Marsh facility denied them access to participate in paintball matches simply because they are blind.

 

A group of blind men are suing a White Marsh paintball park, claiming their state and federal civil rights were violated after they were denied access to the facility based on their disability, according to a Baltimore law firm.

The Baltimore-based firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy filed a federal lawsuit against Route 40 Paintball Park last week on behalf of the Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) and three blind men who allege the facility violated the Maryland White Cane Law. The law requires free and equal access to facilities regardless of blindness.

According to a news release from the law firm, two BISM instructors and six students went to Route 40 Paintball Park, located on the 11000 block of Pulaski Highway, to play paintball on May 21 as part of a final class activity.

But, the release stated, employees at the park questioned whether the blind men could actually play and maneuver around the park and refused to let them participate.

Access Denied

Attorney Gregory Care said the group explained how they would safely participate in the paintball matches much like they had done at other facilities. Still, the group was denied access, Care said.

“This is a pretty straight forward case of a group of people being denied an opportunity simply because of their disability,” Care told Patch. "Unfortunately, this is a far too common occurrence for blind people, both in Maryland and nationwide.”

Care said the incident in May escalated to the point where his clients called Baltimore County police, who cited Route 40 Paintball Park with a misdemeanor Maryland White Cane Law violation.

Julian Maliszewski, son of Route 40 Paintball owner Tom Maliszewski, told Patch his family has no comment on the suit.

A Last Resort

Care said that filing suit was a measure of last resort for his clients, who only sought to play paintball and educate the park owners about the law.

“We reached out to the park owners on several occasions and couldn’t get anywhere with them.” Care said. “This case isn’t about money or damages, it’s about education and addressing misconceptions about blind people. Denying my clients access was discrimination, pure and simple.”

BISM instructor Marco Carranza, one of the blind customers, said this case isn’t one that had to go to court.

“It was very upsetting to be turned away and shocking that such discrimination still exists,” he said in a statement. “We know what we are capable of and being told ‘no’ threatens our independence.”

Another blind customer, James Konechne, said he had never had a problem trying to play at any other paintball park in the area.

“I have played at larger, more complicated parks and never had a problem,” he said in a statement. They just wouldn’t listen to us.”

Gil December 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Tough situation! Blind does not mean people cannot see! Only 10% of persons declared legally blind have zero sight. Unfortunately this will end up costing the business in the end, I suspect. Perhaps proper signage stating entry is at the discretion of the management may have avoided this situation. On the other hand a good businessman would have attempted to accommodate the paying customers in some way.
Dkennylee December 26, 2011 at 08:36 PM
@ linda so if a concert hall turned you away because you are deaf im sure your lawer would be on speed dial . also if you have read this story and all is true... then you would know they played paint ball before and i didnt hear about blind guys being hurt playing paint ball and it would have been in the news sadly front page. There are laws for people with disabiltes, and buy the comment I have seen here tells me there is a good reason to have those laws.being a cop or fife fighter and playing paint ball are no way near the same thing. or flying a airplane. they were asking to shoot paint balls at each other.. what a shame. I hope they win.
brian January 05, 2012 at 08:43 PM
@Dkennylee Are you serious! There is a highway right next to it. Maybe a firefighter or cop aren't the best example but how about this...would you give a blind man a real gun and have him target practice outside of you house? Would you support sending a blind man to war? Paintball guns can cause serious injury to those in the area that weren't prepared to play, they could get hit in the eye or cause an accident on the highway. This group is notorious for going around attacking businesses. This is rediculous, it is a group of people (blind) attacking small businesses and giving a blind man a gun when there is a highway less then 50 yards away is unsafe to everybody in the area. If they were allowed to play they would have sued anyway for injuries. This is what America has come to... people using the system to get money and I'm guessing you are one of those people... people need to get a life.
John S. January 14, 2013 at 03:11 AM
You're an idiot. They would get hurt. I understand some of your points and those are very controlled conditions. There are obstacles, other players and guns involved. So I should endanger my life because a blind person trips and falls and shoots me at point blank range unintentionally? This makes me disrespect the blind involved and the ploy to bully someone that exercised common sense. If they want to play paintball, go buy the stuff, less expensive than hiring some ambulance chaser attorney and play under controlled conditions. This whole thing makes me sick. Had they been allowed to play they would be suing for getting shot, claiming we didn't yell "Duck"
John S. January 14, 2013 at 03:28 AM
This whole thing smells bad. Small business owners struggle to make a living and it's BS lawsuits like this that destroy small business. I am 100% confident that if they had let the blind person(s) in question play and they were injured, the owner would be sued for negligence. I can hear it now: Judge - "Did you know they were blind?" Owner - "Yes your Honor, they told me they were blind." Judge - "So you knew the were blind and you gave them loaded guns?" Owner -"Yes your Honor." Judge - “You gave a blind person a loaded gun, that cannot see, in a sport where it’s FORBIDDEN to fire your weapon “blindly” because you may endanger or kill another player? You actually allowed them to participate?” Owner – “Yes your Honor, they insisted it was their right and we were discriminating.” Judge – “Son, are you an idiot?” I read some of the comments above. It appears that common sense is just not that common anymore.

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