Lawsuit claims discrimination against people with epilepsy

Updated 9/24/2012 9:26 PM

The U.S. attorney's office filed a discrimination lawsuit against a Crystal Lake-based group that provides activities for adults and children with disabilities, arguing it does not accommodate those with epilepsy.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing the administer an anti-seizure medication to those suffering tonic-clonic seizures, commonly known as grand mal seizures.

The suit was filed on behalf of a 17-year-old McHenry County girl and an 8-year-old Crystal Lake girl who have a history of suffering grand mal seizures, which can be life-threatening if untreated.

Prosecutors are asking for a court order that would require NISRA to administer the medication in the event of a seizure.

The medication, Diastat AcuDial, comes in a pre-filled syringe with a plastic tip and must be administered through a person's rectum.

NISRA Executive Director Brian Shahinian said the group had no comment because it hadn't received the filing.

NISRA is a group of 13 park districts and municipal recreation departments. The members are the Barrington, Cary, Crystal Lake, Dundee Township, Hampshire Township, Huntley, Marengo and Wauconda park districts, plus the communities of Elgin, Harvard, Lake in the Hills, McHenry and Woodstock.

The 17-year-old who is included in the lawsuit has suffered approximately 30 grand mal seizures over the last 10 years and has been prescribed a medication that is most effective when administered within five minutes of the onset of the seizure, according to the lawsuit.

The girl participated in NISRA's summer camp in 2007 and 2008, and at that time the group agreed to administer the drug if needed, but it was never needed, according to the lawsuit. NISRA change its policy to no longer administer the drug after the 2008 camp, and its new policy is to follow the participant's seizure plan as closely as possible but call 911 instead of administering the medication.

The lawsuit claims the policy results in a "dangerous delay."

The 8-year-old Crystal Lake girl who is also mentioned in the suit was prescribed a treatment plan that includes promptly administering Diastat, but NISRA refused the request to have an aide be allowed to administer the medication if needed.

• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.

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