Get to Know: Matthew Dietz, BBI Board Member

October 1, 2012

Matthew DietzMatthew W. Dietz, Esq.
BBI Board Member
Partner, Law Offices of Matthew W. Dietz (Miami, FL)

BBI board member and civil rights attorney Matthew W. Dietz, the Public Interest Law Center at Florida State University College of Law, and North Florida Center for Equal Justice filed class action lawsuits in an effort to both force the State of Florida to free children who are institutionalized in nursing home care to the care of their families and the community, and to prevent the State of Florida from pressuring parents to place their children in more expensive nursing homes.

Media coverage about the case:
Feds: Fla. keeping disabled kids in nursing homes (Associated Press)
Why does Florida place disabled kids in nursing homes (Tampa Bay Times)
Feds slam Florida for warehousing disabled kids (The Miami Herald)

What is your connection to disability rights and advocacy?

I have spent most of my legal career representing victims of disability discrimination as well as advocating for  the inclusion of persons with disabilities within the definition of diversity. This includes making attitudinal changes through the Florida Bar and conducting trainings for many different organizations.

Tell us about the class action lawsuits your law firm recently filed alleging Florida unnecessarily institutionalizes children and puts other children at risk of institutionalization.

Currently there are 250 children who are unnecessarily institutionalized in nursing homes and approximately 3,500 children who are at risk of being institutionalized as a result of the State of Florida’s practice of cutting needed nursing care to medically fragile children. As a father, I could not comprehend the pain and the stress that these parents feel when they are not provided with the resources to care for their children at home. Further, these children in nursing homes are not provided with the love and nurturing that can only be provided with a loving family at their home. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that persons with disabilities are able to be integrated in a community-based environment to keep families together and to allow these children to have as normal of a childhood as possible.

Why did you decide to join BBI’s Board of Advisors?

As a lawyer, I have the opportunity to make change through litigation in an adversarial format. BBI allows me to collaborate with others in a cross-disciplinary university environment and create societal change in a cooperative fashion.

Why should all people care about disability-related issues?

Disability-related issues are human issues. Every man or woman is entitled to the equal treatment and dignity. People with disabilities have often been shortchanged and not provided with the opportunities to use their abilities.