United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ANDREW U.D. STRAW, Plaintiff,
VILLAGE OF STREAMWOOD; VILLAGE OF BLOOMINGDALE; VILLAGE OF GLENDALE HEIGHTS; CITY OF ELGIN, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Virginia M. Kendall United States District Court Judge
Andrew Straw, sued five municipalities for failing to shovel
snow off of public sidewalks claiming they violated the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title II, 42
U.S.C. § 12132 and Rehabilitation Act § 504, 29
U.S.C. § 701 et seq.. The five municipalities,
the Village of Bloomingdale (Count I), the Village of
Glendale Heights (Count II), the Village of Streamwood (Count
III), the City of Elgin (Count IV), and Kane County (Count V)
all moved to dismiss. Straw wants $50, 000 in compensatory
damages from each of the Defendants even though he personally
never suffered any injuries because of the snow accumulation.
Straw is a frequent litigator whose law license is suspended
in Indiana and here until August 2017. He filed this suit,
however, before that suspension and so the Court will address
the pending motions to dismiss. Because Straw has no standing
to bring the lawsuit, the case is dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction without prejudice.
represents himself pro se, yet he is an attorney
licensed in the State of Indiana (Compl. ¶ 1) and the
Commonwealth of Virginia (Compl. ¶ 1). However, he is
currently suspended from the practice of law in Indiana and
this Court has also reciprocally suspended him from
practicing in the Northern District of Illinois.
alleges two types of disabilities, those he suffered from
being poisoned at Camp Le Jeune in North Carolina as a child
and those he suffered in a car accident. Specifically, he has
problems with his right hip, right femur, left leg and ankle.
(Compl. ¶ 6.) Although Straw is able to walk, he insists
“I must be considered as a person who uses a wheelchair
because I could be in that state with a single trip and fall,
and the ADA says I am in that “wheelchair-using
state” as a matter of law.” (Compl. ¶ 6.)
resides in Kane County, Illinois. (Compl. ¶ 3.) During
the winters of 2015 and 2016, Straw documented piles of snow
on or near sidewalks and in parking lots by taking photos of
what he believed to be illegal accumulation blocking access
on public sidewalks. Straw attached the photos to his
Complaint. Straw took photographs of snow in Streamwood and
Bloomingdale on March 8, 2015, (Compl. ¶¶ 13, 14);
he was in Glendale Heights on March 8, 2016, (Compl. ¶
15); and in Elgin on December 22, 2016. (Compl. ¶ 16.).
Straw was also in Kane County on January 12, 2016 and when he
was visiting the Kane County Election Board office to drop
off his paperwork for his “congressional
campaign” there was a pile of snow in the handicap
parking space of the building. (Compl. ¶ 17.) On March
30, 2017, Straw and Defendant Kane County stipulated to the
dismissal of the action, with prejudice. (Dkt. 54.) As to the
remaining four Defendants, Straw does not provide any context
to his allegations beyond that the snow piles were present on
the alleged dates.
photographs of the snow in these municipalities are attached
to the Complaint. While the photographs taken in Bloomingdale
and Elgin show snow piles on sidewalks, (Dkt. 1-15, Dkt.
1-17), the other photographs are not consistent with
Straw's allegations. (Dkt. 1-15, Dkt. 1-17.) Straw
photographed two different locations in Streamwood. The
Streamwood photographs do not depict an obstruction on
sidewalks or in handicap-accessible parking spaces. In one of
the locations, Exhibit 11, the photograph is taken from
across the street from a Firestone Complete Auto Care parking
lot. The snow covers some land between the parking lot and
the street, but this land appears to be a grassy curb and
there is no sidewalk in the photograph. (Dkt. 1-11.) In
Exhibit 11.1, the second Streamwood location photographed,
there are no visible snow obstructions and the sidewalk and
parking lot appear to have been shoveled or plowed. (Dkt.
1-12.) In the photographs taken in Glendale Heights, Exhibit
13, there is snow on the ground, but the photographs do not
clearly show any sort of obstruction. (Dkt. 1-16.)
addition to the factual allegations in his Complaint, Straw
also includes a section titled “Legal Argument For
Proper Maintenance of Sidewalks, Curb Ramps, and Handicap
Parking Spaces.” (Dkt. 19 at 6.) Straw includes
language from a letter that he sought from the Federal
Highway Administration's Office (FHWA) during an
unsuccessful, similar lawsuit against the City of South Bend,
Indiana. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Straw also alleges in this
section of the Complaint that the snow piles violate
“the Tinker rule, ” from Tinker v.
Commissioner, NH Dept. of Transportation, Case No.
2009-0012 (N.H. June 11, 2009), “the Parker
rule, ” from Parker, et al. v. Universidad De
Puerto Rico, et al., 225 F.3d 1 (1st Cir. 2000), and
“the Barden rule” from Barden v.
City of Sacramento, et al., 292 F.3d 1073 (9th Cir.
2002). (Compl. ¶ 18.)
addition to compensatory damages, he asks “the Court to
issue an injunction directing these five defendants to cease
disability discrimination in all public services and
facilities, including sidewalks and handicap parking and all
other features owned or controlled by these
defendants.” (Compl. ¶ 56.)
Court takes judicial notice of Straw's case filed in the
Northern District of Indiana as well as the Declaration he
filed (Dkt. 55) in this case because it forms the basis for
his current suspension of his law license. See Ennenga v.
Starns, 677 F.3d 766, 773-74 (7th Cir. 2012) (holding
that public court documents are judicially noticeable);
Henson v. CSC Credit Servs., 29 F.3d 280, 284 (7th
Cir. 1994) (same, and collecting cases).
2016, Straw also drove around downtown South Bend and took
photographs of alleged ADA-noncompliant building parking lots
and then sued the city. Straw v. City of South Bend,
2016 WL 6996047 (N.D. Ind. 2016). The district court
dismissed the suit due to lack of standing because Straw had
no “concrete plans to visit any of these buildings for
any reasons. Without such plans, he faces no actual imminent
threat of injury from the alleged ADA
violations.” Id. at *3. During the litigation,
however, Straw's tactics were aggressive and at times
unprofessional. For example, he requested that the magistrate
judge and the district court judge recuse themselves based
solely on their adverse rulings to him and not any actual
misconduct. Id. at *1. He repeatedly sought the
disqualification of the defense attorney on that case under
Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct, including an
accusation under Rule 8.4(g) that the attorney manifested
bias or prejudice premised on disability. Id. at *1.
Things went from bad to worse when defense counsel had to
retain his own attorney because Straw purchased an internet
domain in defense counsel's name and used it to direct
criticisms at defense counsel. Straw then motioned for an
order to show cause for why defense counsel's attorney
should not be ordered to make her appearance in Straw's
case, so that Straw could then ask her to be disqualified.
Id. at *2. The district court also felt it necessary
to warn Straw that he would not be permitted to continue his
practice of filing superfluous motions that did not comply
with the rules, “[f]or instance, Straw recently filed a
Notice  naming his three public enemies (the federal
government, the Indiana Supreme Court, and the City of South
Bend)[.]” Id. at *5. Finding no success in
Indiana, he now tries his claims in this Court.
case, Straw has filed a declaration that outlines the
discipline actions against him for filing ADA cases and his
intention to continue his work as a disability rights
advocate. Straw further explains that he has sued the
district judge in the South Bend action because “the
federal judge allowed that Court to injure me and exonerate
its own ADA violations, ” and his appeal in that case
was denied on April 3, 2017. Straw v. Jane E. Magnus
Stinson, Case No. 17- 1560, Dkt. No. 11 (7th Cir. 2017,
April 3, 2017). Currently, Straw's license to practice
law is suspended in four different courts.
brings his claims under Title II of the ADA and Section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. Title
II of the ADA provides that “no qualified individual
with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be
excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of
the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or
be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42
U.S.C. § 12132; See Hummel v. St. Joseph Cty. Bd. of
Comm'rs, 817 F.3d 1010, 1016 (7th Cir. 2016). The
Rehabilitation Act provides “No otherwise qualified
individual with a disability in the United States …
shall solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded
from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be
subjected to discrimination under any program or
activity” covered by the Act. 29 U.S.C. § ...