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Opening statements began Monday in a would-be law student’s suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act demanding extra time to take the LSAT because he suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. In the suit, plaintiff Jonathan Love claims that the Law School Admission Council Inc. has violated the ADA by denying his request for a reasonable accommodation despite numerous statements from the psychologists who evaluated him, his teachers and his family, who documented his learning disability. Love is seeking an injunction requiring that he be given 50 percent more time — 52.5 minutes rather than 35 minutes — to take each section of multiple-choice questions. But LSAC’s lawyer argues in court papers that the denial of an accommodation was proper because LSAC’s own expert disagrees with Love’s ADHD diagnosis. And even if the diagnosis is correct, it does not “substantially impair” Love’s ability to take the LSAT. Love, 25, is a graduate of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and is currently enrolled in a master’s of business administration program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. According to court papers, Love first took the LSAT in October 2003 without any accommodations and scored 150, ranking him in the 46th percentile nationally. But Love’s lawyers argue that the score was unfairly low “because he was unable to complete the test within the given time limits, guessing on about half of the questions throughout the test.” The suit says Love is “substantially limited in the major life activities of reading, learning, processing of information, studying and taking tests” by ADHD and a learning disorder that affects his “processing speed and academic fluency.” U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick is presiding in a nonjury trial that starts today and is expected to rule quickly because Love wants to take the LSAT again in February and enter law school in the fall. Love’s lawyers — Charles Weiner of Doylestown, Pa., and Laurence Paradis, Lisa Burger and Mary-Lee Kimber of Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley, Pa. — argue that a long line of ADA cases shows that Love is entitled to the extra time he requested. “The issuance of an injunction providing Mr. Love with his requested accommodation will not affect other LSAT test-takers,” the plaintiff’s lawyers wrote in their motion for injunctive relief. “The nature of the reasonable accommodation requested by Mr. Love merely places him on equal footing with nondisabled testtakers, and does not provide him with an unfair advantage on the LSAT,” the plaintiffs team wrote. But LSAC’s lawyer, Jane Leopold-Leventhal of Eastburn & Gray in Doylestown, argued in her brief that Love simply failed to satisfy the criteria for an accommodation. The “core symptoms” of ADHD, Leopold-Leventhal argued, “are also core symptoms of human nature. Everyone is prone toward some degree of inattentiveness and impulsiveness.” The critical question, she said, is “whether a given individual’s inattentiveness or impulsiveness is so extreme as to substantially limit the individual’s ability to perform one or more major life activities.” Leopold-Leventhal said LSAC provides accommodations only when there is a documented disability that has a substantial impact on the ability to take the LSAT. Love’s request was denied, she said in her brief, in part because he completed the test in his first attempt and his score was “within the average range.” Leopold-Leventhal also noted that since taking the test, Love has applied to and been accepted by four law schools — Florida Coastal Law School, Thomas Jefferson Law School, Mississippi College School of Law and Regent Law School. But Love’s lawyers argue that LSAC has “historically provided test-takers with ADHD and learning disabilities extra time on the LSAT.” In Love’s case, they argue, LSAC is violating its own guidelines for granting accommodations by ignoring Love’s “extensive documented history” of prior academic accommodations. “In denying his requests, the LSAC second-guesses the conclusions of Mr. Love’s family and prior educators who know Mr. Love personally, as well as the multiple professionals who have evaluated Mr. Love’s disability first-hand,” the plaintiff’s lawyers wrote. Without an accommodation, the plaintiffs team argues, Love will suffer irreparable harm because “the LSAT is not merely one more exam; it is the gatekeeper to law school.” If Love is forced to take the test without accommodations, they argue, “the LSAT will effectively become the ultimate barrier to his pursuing the legal profession because the resulting score will not accurately reflect his true abilities and knowledge. Instead, this score will reflect the substantial impact of his disability, and decrease his competitiveness as a law school applicant.” Although the law requires that reasonable accommodations be provided to those with learning disabilities, the plaintiffs lawyers argue that such disabilities are “frequently misunderstood.” “Men and women with learning disabilities who have overcome current discrimination in higher education have proven, through their own professional success, that their disabilities do not preclude them from making highly valuable professional contributions at the highest levels,” the plaintiffs team wrote. In a footnote, the plaintiffs team cited a “Who’s Who” of successful individuals with learning disabilities, including financier Charles Schwab; 1980 Nobel Laureate in medicine Baruj Benecerraf; Virgin Airlines founder Sir Richard Branson; and cardiothoracic surgeon Graeme Hammond.

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