Blind Industries Suing Route 40 Paintball Park

The group alleges in a federal lawsuit that the White Marsh facility denied them access to participate in paintball matches simply because they are blind.

A group of visually impaired men are suing a White Marsh paintball park, claiming their state and federal civil rights were violated after they were denied access to the facility based on their disability, according to a Baltimore law firm.

The Baltimore-based firm of Brown, Goldstein & Levy filed a federal lawsuit against Route 40 Paintball Park last week on behalf of Lansdowne-based Blind Industries and Services of Maryland (BISM) and three blind men who allege the facility violated the Maryland White Cane Law. The law requires free and equal access to facilities regardless of blindness.

According to a news release from the law firm, two BISM instructors and six students went to Route 40 Paintball Park, located on the 11000-block of Pulaski Highway, to play paintball on May 21 as part of a final class activity.

But, the release stated, employees at the park questioned whether the blind men could actually play and maneuver around the park and refused to let them participate.

Access Denied

Attorney Gregory Care said the group explained how they would safely participate in the paintball matches much like they had done at other facilities. Still, the group was denied access, Care said.

“This is a pretty straightforward case of a group of people being denied an opportunity simply because of their disability,” Care told Patch. "Unfortunately, this is a far too common occurrence for blind people, both in Maryland and nationwide.”

Care said the incident in May escalated to the point where his clients called Baltimore County police, who cited Route 40 Paintball Park with a misdemeanor Maryland White Cane Law violation.

Julian Maliszewski, son of Route 40 Paintball owner Tom Maliszewski, told Patch his family has no comment on the suit.

A Last Resort

Care said that filing suit was a measure of last resort for his clients, who only sought to play paintball and educate the park owners about the law.

“We reached out to the park owners on several occasions and couldn’t get anywhere with them.” Care said. “This case isn’t about money or damages, it’s about education and addressing misconceptions about blind people. Denying my clients access was discrimination, pure and simple.”

BISM instructor Marco Carranza, one of the blind customers, said this case isn’t one that had to go to court.

“It was very upsetting to be turned away and shocking that such discrimination still exists,” he said in a statement. “We know what we are capable of and being told ‘no’ threatens our independence.”

Another blind customer, James Konechne, said he had never had a problem trying to play at any other paintball park in the area.

“I have played at larger, more complicated parks and never had a problem,” he said in a statement. They just wouldn’t listen to us.”

edb December 21, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Same thing happened at Northwest Ice Rink a few years ago shortly before they closed their doors and sold the property to Michael Phelps. A large group of blind people showed up at a public session and demanded to skate and were turned away. In previous times the group would call ahead and Northwest would accommodate their needs by giving them access to the rink and providing teenagers to help. I understand that the blind want to be treated equally, but if they get injured trying to do things that sighted people do, then they want to sue because it wasn't a safe environment. It's a catch 22 for all involved. It's a hard lesson, but sometimes we have to acknowledge that we are different and that those differences do make us unequal in some ways.
al walker December 22, 2011 at 12:27 AM
a catch 22 indeed. this could have resulted in harming someone else as well. its a physical sport which requires sight.
Phil Penne December 28, 2011 at 12:40 AM
I do believe that the blind can play paintball and some are quite good as they listen to their surroundings. However I also agree with edb in that if they got injured they would sue because they got injured. I have also seen this happen. Just like anyone of us that goes somewhere and don't have to sign a waiver to do anything, if we get injured we can and some do sue for those injuriies. The world has come to a catch 22 in many aspects. I feel the owners of the paintball took the appropriate action at the time. I also feel they could have averted this by setting up a special time for the lighthouse to come and play when there were no others present to avoid crossfire. Don't get me wrong here I applaude the handicapped for wanting and proving that they can do many things that their handicap has taken away. But come on guys, you want to do it but also want to place blame on those that gave you the opportunity to participate when something goes wrong.
john applesead January 24, 2013 at 03:32 AM
NO BLIND FIRING!!!!! im pretty sure thats a rule that all paintball facilities have to follow.
Kelly April 09, 2013 at 11:59 PM
This reminds me of that disabled man in a wheel chair that makes his $ suing businesses for mirrors that are 3/4 of an inch to high. Shame on those kind of people. Its like a 600 lb man suing DQ or McDonalds for absolutely yummy food. In this case, I would have told them no also. Too dangerous for all involved. The owner made the right choice


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