The leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome.

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Holland Family of Tennessee Has Day in Court in a Defamation Suit Involving Their Son, Adam, with Down Syndrome

The Holland Family, Bernard, Pamela and Adam, of Nashville, Tennessee, had their day in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee on Wednesday, after filing a lawsuit stemming from an image of their son, Adam, who happens to have Down syndrome, in 2004 that was repurposed in many different forms using derogatory and offensive language for a Florida radio station and several other internet sites. National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) President Sara Hart Weir also took the stand at the Nashville Courthouse yesterday as an expert witness in the civil lawsuit involving Adam Holland.

The defamation suit which first garnered national media attention in 2013 when the suit was filed, sought compensatory and punitive damages from three different parties: Cox Media, Russell LaLavee and Dave Brown, the operator of the website Sign Generator. The Holland’s settled with Cox Media prior to this week’s trial, and the two other defendants, LaLevee and Sign Generator, were found guilty by the jury during the trial.

“This case is precedent setting. At NDSS, we have a zero tolerance policy against stereotyping, defamation and discrimination against people with Down syndrome. All people with Down syndrome are valued members of society and deserve to be treated with the upmost dignity and respect” said NDSS President Sara Hart Weir. “We commend the Holland’s for their courageous advocacy and for standing up for all families by pursuing this case.”

This is an important victory for all those who happen to have Down Syndrome.  It sends an important message that those who post on the Internet demeaning and insulting images of individuals with a disability can expect to face consequences, including punitive damages for the harm they inflict on innocent victims,” said Nashville attorney Larry Crain, who represented the Holland family.

“As both the Chairman of the NDSS board and a proud father of my daughter, Jackie, who happens to have Down syndrome, I believe this is a human rights issue that we must continue to fight against. We are with the Holland’s every step of the way. Every parent sees their son or daughter in those horrific images, and we will not rest until we put an end to the unnecessary stereotyping and discrimination that still exists today,” said NDSS Chairman Rob Taishoff. 

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