Student Sues Over Right to Use Golf Cart

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A Lawton, Okla., teenager with knee problems is suing the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, seeking the right to use a golf cart in high school tournaments.
 
Scott Campbell, a 15-year-old freshman at MacArthur High School in Lawton, filed a federal lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act in Oklahoma City last week asking to be allowed to use a golf cart and seeking $50,000 plus punitive damages.
 
'Like most golfers, Scott would like to walk 18 holes, but he can't,' Campbell's father, Michael Campbell, said Thursday. 'It's painful for him to even walk around school. After months of physical therapy, his knees are getting worse.'
 
Campbell has been diagnosed with chondromalacia, or damage to cartilage in the kneecap, and dislocation of the patella - a condition that developed after he was in an automobile accident in December. As an eighth-grader, Campbell asked for a cart exemption last spring to play in middle-school tournaments.
 
'They (OSSAA) wouldn't let him use a cart because they said he didn't meet ADA requirements,' Michael Campbell said. 'We sent them letters from three doctors stating that (his condition) substantially limits his major life activity, walking.
 
'They wanted more details. You don't need to give those kind of details under the ADA. They wanted to know exactly how much he could bend his knees. That's practicing medicine.'
 
Over the summer he was granted an exemption to use a cart in South Central PGA junior golf tournaments, but his request for an exemption for high school was denied.
 
Executive secretary Danny Rennels said the OSSAA will comply with the ADA, but must receive proper documentation. He referred questions about the lawsuit to attorney Mark Grossman.
 
'They did not give (the OSSAA) sufficient information,' Grossman said. 'They refused to allow us to speak to his doctors.
 
'There was uncertainty over what his problem was. It would be hard to justify making an exception for someone if it was a temporary condition where rest or physical therapy is needed. If it was temporary such as a broken ankle, you don't want that person out stomping around the golf course. The OSSAA is concerned about the health of all competitors. We don't want them to make their injury worse.'
 
Michael Campbell said he thought that Casey Martin's 1998 victory in an ADA lawsuit that allowed him to play on the PGA Tour with a rare circulatory disorder in his right leg would have resolved such situations.
 
Mark Solano, the Tulsa lawyer representing the Campbells, sees similarities and differences in the cases.
 
'This is more compelling,' Solano said. 'This is not a case that affects anyone else's ability to make a living.'
 
A court date has not been set.
 
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