Charles Courtney is trying to alert the public to what he claims is the exploitation of people with disabilities by a state agency and a Mobile business serving people with disabilities.
Courtney, a wheelchair-bound Mobile man, said he was in a car accident in August 2014. The accessible minivan he was driving was heavily damaged when a driver ran a red light while speeding, but he drove the van for an additional eight months because it was his only means of transportation.
Eventually, Courtney received payment from the other driver’s insurance company and soon after purchased a replacement used van in January 2015. Following the purchase, Courtney took the van to Team Adaptive Medical in Mobile to inquire about getting adaptive driving equipment installed. According to Courtney, Team Adaptive Medical said he would be required to take a $500 driver’s evaluation to be administered by the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS).
After his March 9, 2015, evaluation, the ADRS sent a prescription for equipment to Team Adaptive. According to a document provided by Courtney, Team Adaptive’s estimate was more than $6,000 for the adaptive driving equipment. The estimate did not include additional items such as a magnetic entry system or an automatic lighting system, which Courtney said someone added to the estimate later. He said those items, which he does not need, would have added as much as $1,000 to the cost.
“I tried to tell them some of the items were luxuries, not necessities,” Courtney said. “They told me I had to buy everything that was on the prescription.”
Courtney said he expressed concern to Team Adaptive that the requirement to purchase everything on the prescription was discriminatory.
According to a complaint he filed through the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Courtney alleged that on March 11, 2015 — one day after expressing his discrimination concerns to Team Adaptive — he received a phone call from the company’s general manager, Ashley Mullins. He said Mullins told him if he continued to talk about discrimination, Team Adaptive would cease doing business with him.
Courtney alleges that on March 20, 2015, Mullins called again to tell him he was banned from doing business with Team Adaptive. According to Courtney, the alleged ban is a violation of the Alabama Deceptive Trade Practices Act because he was not allowed to continue doing business there after questioning practices he believed to be discriminatory.
Along with the alleged ban, Courtney also claims the ADRS and Team Adaptive tried to force him to purchase unnecessary equipment for the van.
Reached for comment, Mullins said she has been advised by the Team Adaptive legal team not to speak on the matter, citing HIPAA privacy regulations.
Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services Commissioner Cary Boswell also declined to comment, citing federal confidentiality rules.
Courtney said he was eventually able to have the necessary equipment installed in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
“The stress alone has probably taken years off of my life,” Courtney said. “Whether it has been an insurance company, Team Adaptive Medical or ADT/ADRS, I have had one roadblock after another thrown in front of me.”