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resolution for Bates, but his battle had only just begun. “It’s great for me,” Bates said at the


time. “But the problem hasn’t gone away for other people in my situation.” Bates continued to lobby to


BATES HOPES TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR OTHERS WITH SPINAL MUSCULAR ATROPHY.


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November, he met with a VR coun- selor in order to set up the attendant services and was assured they would be in place when he started work. But then fate took a cruel twist as he headed for Tavares in Lake County, where he was to be working. “My parents were driving my


Dodge Caravan with a U-Haul trailer containing my furniture and belong- ings, and my attendant was already in central Florida, ready to take over and go to work,” he says. “And then I got a call that there would be no payment for an attendant. We were actually passing Tallahassee when I got the call, so we exited off, drove to the governor’s office and demanded a meeting with the assistant chief of staff. In retrospect, that was a little comical and radical.” It was a devastating blow as once


again confusion about his eligibil- ity under the law for a personal care attendant had been approved then was denied. But Bates is not one to give up easily. “I did something my dad taught


me when I was younger,” he says. “When things aren’t being done cor-


DIVERSITY & THE BAR® MARCH/APRIL 2014


rectly, the quickest way to get things moving is to put a spotlight on it.” Bates called government repre-


sentatives and circulated a letter to legislators and the media about the need to supply personal care services for others with disabilities so that they could accept gainful employment. Te Orlando Sentinel picked up his story in December 2005, and a month later the Florida Bar News in Tallahassee began running a series of articles about his situation. Support developed quickly from influential people such as disability rights attorney Matthew Dietz of Miami; state legislator Andy Gardiner of Orlando; and lobbyist Steve Uhlfelder, who arranged meet- ings with Governor Jeb Bush and his chief of staff. Florida Supreme Court Clerk Tomas Hall, who has since retired, was among others who spoke up for Bates. He became a cause cele- bre in the legal community of Florida. Tree months after his story broke,


Bates was hired by an Orlando firm, Mirabilis Ventures, whose interests included an employment leasing busi- ness. Te firm provided him with an attendant. Te job offer was a joyful


change the law that had denied him services, testifying at state hearings and working with legislators. Less than three years after Bates was denied his assistance, state represen- tatives Gardiner and Steve Wise of Jacksonville co-sponsored an amend- ment to the original disabilities law to expand access to attendants to all individuals with disabilities who needed attendants to be gainfully employed. Te legislation created a program to coordinate these services, called the James Patrick Memorial Work Incentive Personal Attendant Services Program in honor of the late Jacksonville attorney Jimmy Patrick, a quadriplegic, whose groundbreak- ing efforts led to the creation of the original program assisting those with spinal cord injuries. It was a great victory for Bates, whose case and continued efforts had helped to pro- vide support for the eventual passage of the legislation. “It finally passed and it’s a done


deal,” said Bates, who was then deal- ing with new challenges. Te IRS charged his employer,


Mirabilis Ventures, with tax evasion, claiming the firm owed the govern- ment upwards of $200 million includ- ing penalties. Not only had it filed for bankruptcy, but its CEO, Frank Amodeo, was under indictment for fraudulent activities. Bates’s response was indicative of his resilience. He formed, with coworker Matt Mokwa, their own law firm, Bates Mokwa, to help handle the bankruptcy proceed- ings for Mirabilis. Tey also handled civil rights litigation related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and represented plaintiffs harmed by prescription drugs. Bates successfully represented a


man with dystonia, a neurological condition associated with twisting,


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