Ruling favoring blind vendors reversed
What ever happened to the lawsuit by blind vendors claiming the city did not give priority to blind people licensed by the Department of Human Services to operate vending facilities in its public buildings and did not transfer to the state the commissions collected from the city's own vending machines?
Answer: The state Supreme Court reversed a Circuit Court's $3.67 million final judgment for the plaintiffs, who are licensed blind vendors.
In 1995, blind vendors learned the city was not making space in its public buildings for vending machines under the control of blind vendors, violating the state law regarding blind vendors.
Various attempts to gain compliance by the city and enforcement by the state failed and the case went to court in 1996.
The Circuit Court put off the case to allow for administrative handling of the matter. In 1997, the state human services director, "apparently without conducting a full evidentiary hearing, issued a decision and order, basically agreeing" with the state's position that the Department of Human Services has the authority to control the placement of vending machines in all state and county public buildings and the income it derived from them, the Supreme Court said.
The Supreme Court ruled Oct. 27 that the state does not have jurisdiction in the case, which involves a federal act, and the case should be adjudicated in federal court.
So after 10 years of legal wrangling in state courts, the case, if pursued, must be brought before a federal judge.
The case had been appealed by the state, the blind vendors cross-appealed, and challenged pretrial and post-judgment rulings made by the trial court.
The high court did not rule on issues brought up in the pretrial and post-judgment rulings since it reasoned that the case lacked proper jurisdiction.
This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori.
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