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Confidential Settlement For Grocery Store's ADA Non-compliance

People with disabilities are not limited by their challenges when both public and private amenities are ADA compliant. However, when spaces are ADA non-compliant, it not only makes tasks difficult for those with disabilities - it also puts them in harm’s way.

In this instance, a grocery store failed to keep the loading zone of their handicapped parking space level, creating a very dangerous scenario for R.M., a 12-year-old wheelchair-user with muscular dystrophy. As R.M. made his way to the parking lot from the store, his wheelchair caught the defect and he fell forward onto the dirty, hot asphalt. R.M. was secured into his chair when he fell, scraping his knees and face - but these injuries were superficial compared to the life-threatening abrasions to his hips, which were caused by his seatbelt when he and his wheelchair fell onto the parking lot.

In addition to suffering from muscular dystrophy, R.M. is also afflicted with an immunodeficiency disorder that impairs his body’s ability to fight against infections. The seatbelt abrasions to R.M.’s hips led to a rare bacterial infection from the asphalt, inducing septic shock and R.M.’s second hospitalization that week. Steven Chavez of Chavez Law Firm P.C. was then contacted by R.M.’s mother and quickly opened a claim against the grocery store and their $5-million policy limit, giving them notice to preserve all documentation and footage of the incident.

After conservative methods of controlling R.M’s infection failed, physicians turned to high-dose steroid regiments, leaving R.M. in the ICU for nearly 3 weeks - but ultimately saving his life. R.M. was released with a mountain of medical records, but the complications did not stop there: R.M. began suffering from debilitating symptoms including headaches, vision blur, and confusion, sending him to the ICU a third time with a diagnosis of steroid-induced diabetes.

Steven anticipated what a difficult task it would be to explain how this chain of events was caused by the grocery store’s ADA non-compliance. In order to help him explain the particulars of this case, Steven retained the Nation's top experts: an engineer specializing in liability for the parking lot defect, a pediatric infectious disease physician, a pediatric endocrinologist, and DK Global’s team of animators to create a cohesive and expert-guided presentation that would outline the succession of events.

After recreating the series of events with a reconstruction animation that demonstrated R.M.’s fall, and a medical presentation explaining the resulting hospitalizations, DK Global summarized R.M.’s decline with a domino metaphor, effectively showing how these issues began because of the grocery store’s negligence.

Once Steven shared the animation, the Defense opted to resolve the case through mediation, resulting in a confidential settlement for R.M. and his family.

For over 25 years, Steven M. Chavez has been advocating for catastrophic injury survivors in the New Mexico community, beginning his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Valencia County. Since 2002, Steven has consulted local municipalities regarding their legal affairs and has handled numerous wrongful death, civil rights, and personal injury matters. Steven prides himself on devoting himself to a select amount of cases to ensure his clients receive his absolute attention and best the representation they deserve.

"If I can practice another 25 years, I hope to work with DK Global another 25 times. That’s how good it turned out in this case, and I do believe DK Global was instrumental in that."
Steven M. Chavez - Chavez Law Firm P.C.
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