Stephanie Woodward, former BBI research assistant, gives Florida court reason to urge all bars to comply with ADA

February 25, 2014

Court urges all bars to get right with the ADA

By Jan Pudlow
Senior Editor

One woman in a wheelchair — excluded from a voluntary bar social gathering in a basement wine cellar without an elevator — sparked a strong directive from the Florida Supreme Court: All bar meetings must be accessible to all.

Stephanie Woodward recently moved from Syracuse, N.Y., to Miami, passed the Florida bar exam, and awaits approval of her character and fitness check so she can be a full-fledged member of The Florida Bar.

As a “baby lawyer” new to town, she is anxious to make connections in the legal profession. So she was excited about an invitation to attend a Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section event called “An Evening with the Judges” — described as “an informal gathering to promote communication among the legal community and the bench.”

Sure, she was welcome, even though she’s not officially a lawyer yet, the Dade YLS president assured her.

But there was a big problem: The January 23 event was being held in the wine cellar — a former bomb shelter— of the restaurant Le Chat Noir, at 2 South Miami Avenue. There are a lot of steps and no elevator down to the the wine celler. And Woodward has a mobility disability and uses a wheelchair.

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