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SORCC sued by Commission for the Blind

Local reports

Oregon's Commission for the Blind has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for allegedly failing to comply with the Randolph-Sheppard Act at its facility in White City. The 1936 law gives preference to blind people to run vending machines on government properties.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, representing the Oregon Commission for the Blind, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Medford. It charges that the VA failed to follow the law at the Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center & Clinics in White City, The Oregonian reported.

The lawsuit claims that for more than 40 years, the VA's White City facility has had maintained a food court and 28 vending machines. Those machines have generated a net profit of about $6,000 a month in recent years, according to the suit.

The Oregon Commission for the Blind accuses the VA of failing to follow the Randolph-Sheppard law. The state agency's concerns date back to 2009, according to The Oregonian, when it requested a permit to provide vending services at the White City facility.

Veterans Affairs denied the request, claiming it was exempt from the law, according to the lawsuit. A panel of arbitrators, however, found that the law did apply to the facility and that the VA was in violation of the law. "Notwithstanding the issuance of the arbitration panel's decision, the VA continues to maintain that the (Randolph-Sheppard Act) does not apply to its facility and refuses to take any remedial action to issue the permit sought by the OCB or to otherwise prioritize blind vendors," the lawsuit alleges.

Described by the VA as "the nation’s only freestanding residential rehabilitation center," SORCC has 600 patient beds as well as a primary care and mental health outpatient department. Formerly known as the VA Domiciliary, it sits on the site of a World War II military training facility.