Syracuse University

SU News

BBI Chairman Peter Blanck and board member Matthew Dietz to argue disability case before U.S. Court of Appeals

March 16, 2011

Anthony Adornato
(315) 443-6173

blanckPeter Blanck, chairman of the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University and University Professor, and Matthew Dietz, a civil rights attorney and BBI Advisory Board member, will argue before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in Jacksonville, Fla. on April 12.

The case, Kaw v. School District of Hillsborough County, involves whether the federal trial court properly found for the school district as a matter of law following the jury verdict in favor of Sherrie Kaw. The jury found that Kaw was terminated by the school district in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the school district regarded Kaw as disabled because of her fainting condition. Kaw’s condition, cardiogenic syncope, is the most common cause of fainting.

Kaw was working as a teacher’s aide to a student with a disability, and she was terminated in the midst of having tests done to treat her fainting condition. The school district believed that Kaw was going to have a fainting episode and injure herself or fall on a child. Blanck and Dietz will argue the jury properly found that Kaw was fired because the school district believed she had a disabling condition and terminated Kaw based on this belief. “This case is the perfect illustration of the myths and stereotypes that the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to prevent,” says Dietz.

BBI is dedicated to practical inclusive solutions for people with disabilities worldwide. With a staff of more than 60 and offices in Syracuse, N.Y., Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Tel Aviv, Israel, BBI engages in projects on civil rights, entrepreneurship, universal design, employment and economic advancement, technology innovation, and attitudes about disability in traditional and new media. For more information, visit

Recent News