Lenexa man with disability fights trash can citation

LENEXA, Kan. - James Dearth owns his own business and takes pride in his Lenexa home. He even paid to have the lawn mowed next door when it was vacant.

"It was quite an eyesore," he said.

But his trash cans?

"It was such a joke," he scoffed.

He said those earned him a bench warrant for his arrest.

"I said, 'I can be taken to jail over my trash cans being in my driveway?' and they said yeah," he said of his call to city officials.

Dearth said his trash cans sit in front of his garage because he can't move them himself. Born with Spina Bifida, he has fought for his independence. He can carry out small bags at a time.

"I've been handicapped my whole life. I wear braces on both my legs," he said. "I have no balance standing. Just free standing? I can't do it."

For years, his trash collector has brought his trash down his driveway and put it back. That is a service they offer for his disability. But in 2012, Dearth said he got a citation from the city. He thought he had explained his situation until he got another citation late last year. He called back to explain his disability again.

"I never got a call back, I never got an email, a fax, a letter in the mail until I received the ticket," he said.

Now he had to be in court, but his court date was the same day as an emergency surgery, a complication of Spina Bifida. He claims he wasn't allowed to reschedule.

"And I said, 'What happens if I don't appear?' 'If you don't appear you will have a bench warrant issued for you,'" he said.

That was January.

After months of phone calls and messages to the city, he and his mother finally made their plea to the city council Tuesday night.

"Something has to happen and if it doesn't, I'll just keep going up," Dearth said.

Now, he is waiting to see if he will get an answer before his next court date in April.

Lenexa city officials declined to comment. Dearth said he is prepared to file a grievance under the Americans with Disabilities Act or other legal action. 

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