Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC is a law firm located in Arlington, Texas, and serving clients in Mansfield, Texas, in Arlington, in Tarrant County in general, as well as in north and central Texas. Our attorneys place top priority on our clients’ interests by providing high quality representation ranging from navigating complex litigation in both state and federal courts to handling ERISA matters. Our focus includes: commercial litigation, ERISA, education, ADA, guardianship/probate, personal injury, wills, trusts, family law, criminal justice, and civil rights.
Mark Whitburn graduated from Yale University with a BA in Philosophy in 1986. He then obtained his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998. While at UT, Mr. Whitburn won six teaching awards for his classes, including Philosophy of Law, Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Art. He went on to earn his Doctor of Jurisprudence at the University of Chicago in 2003. At the University of Chicago, Mr. Whitburn was on Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
After graduating from law school, Mr. Whitburn worked for Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP. During his tenure at Gibson Dunn, he worked on complex litigation such as class action and ERISA cases in both federal and state courts around the country. Mr. Whitburn also distinguished himself as an appellate litigator in the commercial litigation context. He also took pro bono cases involving civil rights. For example, in a case in which the State of Texas refused to provide life-sustaining services to an individual with multiple disabilities at his home, Mr. Whitburn won his summary judgment motion in federal court and a permanent injunction ordering the State to provide these necessary services after all. Mr. Whitburn received the firm's prestigious Frank Wheat Memorial Award for his victory in this case. Additionally, Mr. Whitburn drafted an amicus brief for the ACLU of Texas on behalf of a severely disabled individual sentenced to 100 years in prison, contending that the sentence violated the Eighth Amendment. The sentence was drastically reduced.
Mr. Whitburn left Gibson Dunn & Crutcher in December of 2010 and went on to work with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Texas, where he was a Senior Staff Attorney and managed the organization’s Racial Justice docket. During his tenure at the ACLU, Mr. Whitburn initiated a lawsuit on behalf of immigrant women who were victims of sexual assault while in the federal government's custody. This case garnered considerable national media attention, and members of Congress cited it in the course of admonishing the federal government to improve its efforts in this area. Mr. Whitburn also took a lead role in a case against a Texas county for failing to conduct indigency hearings before imprisoning teenagers for unpaid fines associated with truancy, a Class C misdemeanor. Mr. Whitburn was responsible for investigating complaints concerning prison and jail conditions, police misconduct, and school-to-prison pipeline issues across the state of Texas.
The Texas Civil Liberties & Civil Rights Section of the State Bar of Texas bestowed on Mr. Whitburn its Wiseman Award for his significant contributions to the civil rights of Texans with disabilities. Mr. Whitburn convinced a US District Court that the State of Texas violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act as interpreted in the US Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. He prevailed in two Fair Housing Act cases against homeowners’ associations. One case involved a group home for people with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. The HOA attempted to shut down this group home by imposing an unlawful restrictive covenant. Mr. Whitburn persuaded a Texas state court of appeals that this restrictive covenant violated both the federal and Texas Fair Housing Acts. Mr. Whitburn also prevailed in another FHA case on behalf of a sober living group home in US District Court. This is the first sober living FHA case that was litigated outside of California.
Sean Pevsner established this law firm with his best friend, Mark Whitburn. They have been best friends since 1986. Mr. Whitburn assisted Mr. Pevsner throughout these years. This firm is one among many goals which they have accomplished together. For more on their story, please visit our news page.
Mr. Pevsner is a University of Texas Law graduate with severe cerebral palsy who operates a motorized wheelchair by the use of head movements. Due to his quadriplegia, he cannot write but must rely on an interpreter or a specialized computer to do his work. People underestimated him from the moment that he was born to the present. He was born clinically dead. The anesthesiologist had to administer CPR for 45 minutes until he could breathe on his own. The anesthesiologist probably was thinking this guy is not going to survive as he was administering the CPR, but Mr. Pevsner proved him wrong after those 45 minutes. Mr. Pevsner has been proving people wrong for 40 plus years. People who were the so called experts said that his life span would be very short. They said he would probably live until he was in his thirties.
These people said that he could not go to a regular school, much less take mainstream classes such as Latin, English literature and calculus. Again, he proved them wrong. His grades were A’s and B’s in these mainstream classes. At the end of his high school in 1990, the Arlington Independent School District (AISD) officials projected that he would graduate ahead of their initial plan for his graduation. Originally, they believed that he would graduate at the age of 22. He graduated at the age of 19 in the top 20% of his high school class. Despite all of these achievements, people did not believe that he could attend a major university like the University of Texas at Austin. At this point, his self advocacy skills automatically went into overdrive whenever someone even mentioned the word “can’t” in the same sentence as his name.
He went on to major in Greek and Latin at UT, while making significant contributions to the university’s community. The UT Classics Department bestowed on him the WJ Battle Award for excellence in Greek and Latin translation. He graduated in 1998, receiving several awards for his advocacy and contributions to the university. Yet, despite these accomplishments, people did not believe that he could go to law school and become a practicing attorney. Once again, Mr. Pevsner proved these people wrong by graduating from UT Law School and gaining admittance to Texas State Bar.
Mr. Pevsner worked with Disability Rights Texas, which is a non-profit organization that protects the civil and human rights of Texans with disabilities through a fellowship sponsored by Equal Justice Works. He assisted people with disabilities in obtaining equal access to education, employment and community services. Mr. Pevsner complemented Advocacy’s services, not only by providing legal assistance to these individuals, but also by teaching them self-advocacy skills.
As part of his Equal Justice Works fellowship project, Mr. Pevsner created the Flexible Interactive Process (FIP) Manual to assist both the employer and employee to have a constructive working relationship. This manual was a part of his Equal Justice Works Project to educate people with disabilities on their rights in the workplace and how they can self-advocate to protect their rights in the community.
Mr. Pevsner's project has broken new ground in that it focused each of its stages on educating students in those skills. His project also focused on ensuring the proper implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and assisting students with disabilities in taking advantage of the full benefits of this federal law during their secondary education. This project also focused on higher education for people with disabilities. Mr. Pevsner has shown people with disabilities how to employ the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to ensure their own access to an equal opportunity for higher education.
After leaving Disability Rights Texas, Mr. Pevsner continued to assist others with disabilities. He has assisted clients with cerebral palsy obtain IDEA services by representing them at school, meetings and negotiating with opposing counsel their behalf.
At Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC, Mr. Pevsner has developed a vibrant special education practice and has worked on other aspects of education law, as well as guardianship and other probate proceedings.
At Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC, Mr. Whitburn works in all practice areas with a focus on commercial litigation, ERISA, and civil rights matters.
At Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC, we offer our experience and passion as lawyers to serve our clients with consummate professionalism at a reasonable rate. If you feel that you have a matter that needs to be resolved in the legal arena, whether civil or criminal, or if you require legal services in any of our areas of practice, please feel free to contact us at (817) 592-3488 or Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC, 2000 E. Lamar Boulevard, Suite 600, Arlington, Texas 76006.
At Whitburn & Pevsner, PLLC, we practice in a wide variety of areas, reflecting our diverse talents. From Special Education to Commercial Litigation, our attorneys provide high quality legal representation with consummate professionalism. Regardless of practice area, we hold ourselves to the highest standards.
Antidiscrimination Disability Rights Laws
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits private entities from committing employment discrimination against people based on disability. Under the ADA, these entities must provide reasonable job accommodations to their employees and applicants with disabilities upon request. Title I of the ADA only covers private entities with 15 or more employees. If you believe a private entity has discriminated against you due to your disability or has failed to provide reasonable job accommodations, we can assess your case to determine its merit. If we determine that you have a strong case, then we can offer the following services:
• Sending a demand letter to an entity requesting an amicable solution to the issue at hand.
• Filing an EEOC complaint on clients’ behalf (claimants are required to file an EEOC complaint before filing an ADA employment lawsuit in court).
• Filing a lawsuit in court on behalf of clients.
• Representing clients in any mediation, negotiations or settlement talks.
Title II of the ADA covers governmental entities such as the states and local municipalities. The Federal Government is not covered under the ADA. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation of 1973 covers the Federal Government. Section 504 has the same legal requirements as the ADA. Our services are the same as with Title I cases.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), independent public school districts must provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. In providing FAPE, school districts have a legal obligation to provide support services such as paraprofessionals, assistive technology, and physical and occupational therapies to assist students with disabilities in obtaining an appropriate education. Districts also must provide reasonable academic accommodations and make their facilities wheelchair accessible.
Our services include:
• Representing students and their parents in Due Process Hearings, mediations and, if necessary, in federal court.
• Assisting clients in finding qualified experts to perform evaluations to determine the appropriate support services & academic accommodations which districts must provide.
• Filing ADA violations complaints with the Department of Justice & the Department of Education.
• Attending ARD meetings and assisting in crafting individualized educational plans.
• Mentoring students with disabilities by educating them on how to best assert their rights and participate in creating their educational plans.
Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit public higher education institutions from discriminating against qualified students with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations to and making their facilities accessible for people with disabilities. Our services are similar to those under IDEA cases.
Title III of the ADA requires private entities, both large and small companies, to make their facilities and services accessible to people with disabilities. Unlike Title I, Title III covers all private entities regardless of the number of employees that the companies might have on staff. If you believe a private entity has discriminated against you by failing to make its facilities and/or services accessible, then we can assess your particular case for merit. If we find that it has merit, we can offer the following services:
• Conducting accessibility surveys to determine if a given entity is compliant with the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG).
• Sending a demand letter requesting that a particular entity comply with ADAAG.
• Filing a formal complaint with the Department of Justice.
• Filing a lawsuit against the noncompliant entity.
• Representing clients in mediations, negotiations and courts.
The federal Fair Housing Act and Texas Fair Housing Act prohibit disability discrimination in the renting and selling of housing. Under these laws, both public and private entities in the housing industry must make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices and services to ensure equal access to people with disabilities. Landlords must allow renters with disabilities to make reasonable accessibility modifications to the housing premises. These modifications must be at the renters’ expense. If you believe that an entity covered by these laws has discriminated against you, we can assess your case. If we deem that your case has merit, we can offer the following services:
• Conducting accessibility reviews of an entity’s facilities to determine if it is in compliance with Housing and Urban Development administration (HUD) accessibility guidelines.
• Sending a demand letter to an entity requesting they comply with the law.
• Filing a formal complaint with HUD.
• Representing clients in courts at the administrative, state and federal levels.
We can draft wills of any type. From simple wills for individuals to complex wills for couples, we can tailor your will to meet your unique wishes and needs. With a properly drafted will, you can ensure that your estate and cherished possessions get distributed to your loved ones and friends. If you have minor children or mentally incapacitated family members, you can designate a guardian for them in your will in the event they survive you.
We assist people in establishing trusts. There are different types of trusts which people can use to control their money and property. The two main trusts that we draft are the following:
• Special Needs Trusts: These trusts are available to people with disabilities who have income from a personal injury lawsuit or some other source that disqualifies them from receiving government benefits such as SSI and Medicaid. When determining the eligibility of individuals with disabilities for benefits, the government cannot consider any money or property which is in a special needs trust. These individuals can put their income in this trust with a third party serving as trustee. The special needs trust, instead of the individual with a disability, owns all the income and property contained within it, thereby making the individual eligible for governmental assistance.
• Spendthrift Trusts: A person (grantor) can create a spendthrift trust containing money and/or property for the benefit of someone else (beneficiary). This type of trust is usually created by a grantor who wants to provide for a beneficiary whom the grantor believe cannot or will not manage the money properly. It usually serves as a safe harbor from the beneficiary’s creditors as well.
A guardianship may be necessary when a person becomes mentally or physically incapacitated. There are two types of guardianships. Guardianship of the estate is where someone has control of an incapacitated person’s money/property and manages the estate. Guardianship of the person is when a guardian takes custody of the incapacitated person.
We can assist in establishing or removing a guardianship. Our approach to guardianships is to find ways to give the proposed ward as much freedom as possible to manage his or her life while at the same time ensuring that his or her best interests are served.
Probate courts usually adjudicate civil commitments. Under Texas law, anyone who is (1) deemed mentally ill by a licensed physician, and (2) as a result of that illness, likely to cause serious harm to himself or to others, can be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.
If a person is involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, the state must hold a due process hearing to show good cause for the commitment. If you, one of your family members or a close friend are going through an involuntarily civil commitment, we can offer the following services:
• Reviewing the documentation for the commitment application to ensure that the court is following the proper procedures.
• Representing clients in due process hearings.
• Assisting clients in obtaining the appropriate mental health and support services.
Section 1983 Cases and other Civil Rights Cases
We bring civil rights cases against governmental agencies and officials, which are usually Section 1983 cases. These cases may involve unconstitutional treatment of undocumented immigrants, abuses in prisons, unconstitutional discrimination, infringement of free speech, freedom of religion and the press.
We have substantial experience in federal and state courts across the country in complex commercial litigation of all kinds, including class actions, representing plaintiffs in some cases and defendants in others.
We have taken lead roles in litigating ERISA cases throughout Texas, sometimes representing plaintiffs and representing defendants at other times.