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Old 04-28-2017, 03:22 AM
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Soapbox Dual class-action suits filed against NYC subway's lack of wheelchair accessibility

For Immediate Release: April 25, 2017 Media Contacts: Michelle Caiola:
(212) 644-8644, Sid Wolinsky: (212) 644-8644, Daniel Brown: (212)
634-3095, Jessica Powers (646) 428-4481 (CIDNY)
UNPRECEDENTED DUAL CLASS ACTION SUITS FILED TODAY CHALLENGING THE NEW YORK CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM’S ILLEGAL DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WHEELCHAIR USERS AND OTHERS
New York, NY—April 25, 2017—Two class action lawsuits were filed today
against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), accusing it of
systematically excluding people with disabilities. One suit, filed in New
York state court, is the first case to ever challenge the fact that over
350 of New York City’s subway stations are unusable by people who can’t
traverse stairs, making it the least accessible subway system in the
nation. This affects hundreds of thousands of New York City residents and
visitors such as those using wheelchairs, with arthritis, or having
certain heart or lung conditions. It alleges that the MTA’s failure to
install elevators in stations throughout the city is in flagrant
violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. The second suit, filed
in federal court, accuses the MTA of not maintaining the few elevators
that do exist, leading to frequent breakdowns. Both suits were filed
by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a national nonprofit legal center,
on behalf of a broad coalition of disability groups, including Bronx
Independent Living Services, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the
Disabled, Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, Disabled In
Action of Metropolitan New York, Harlem Independent Living Center, New
York StateWide Senior Action Council, Inc., and three individuals who use
wheelchairs for mobility. The law firm Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton
LLP is co-counseling with DRA. New York City has the largest, most
used subway system in the country. Yet almost 80% of its stations are
not accessible, virtually making the system unusable to residents and
visitors to the city who use wheelchairs, walkers, scooters or are
otherwise unable to traverse flights of stairs(see map of New York City’s
inaccessible subway stations). This exclusion is devastating to people
with disabilities. Moreover, the inaccessibility is heightened when
the few existing elevators are frequently unusable. The suit charges
that 25 subway station elevators are out of service on any given day,
sometimes for long periods of time, and the elevators are frequently
littered with trash and urine. The MTA also fails to provide effective
notice of outages or offer alternatives to those who rely on the
elevators. Plaintiff Sasha Blair-Goldensohn’s trip to work requires a
transfer and four elevators because the direct route is not accessible.
He remarked, “The lack of elevators doubles my commute time, at best.
And if just one elevator is out of service, I’m stuck. I never know when
I’ll have to ask strangers to carry me up the stairs in my wheelchair.
It’s nerve-wracking, dangerous and degrading.” “Both the lack of
elevators and the frequent breakdowns make wheelchair users like myself
very vulnerable,” stated plaintiff Dustin Jones. “And to make matters
worse, when an elevator is non-operative, there are rarely any warnings
or announcements in stations and no contingency plan to assist people in
my situation.” Plaintiff Chris Pangilinan, observed “The very limited
number of stations has complicated every aspect of my life; from where I
live, to the extra time for travel. I want the New York City subway to
achieve the same level of accessibility that I have seen in every other
major city in the U.S.” New York City’s subway system is the least
accessible in the country; approximately 360 of New York’s 472 service
line stations lack vertical accessibility. Michelle Caiola, DRA’s
Director of Litigation, said “the MTA’s actions are both short-sighted
and a disgrace to New York. Subway station inaccessibility does not just
affect people who use wheelchairs, but also everyone unable to use
steps. It is dangerous for older people and those who resort to carrying
baby strollers precariously up and down stairs. Unfortunately, the MTA
has been derelict in its duty to ensure the basic right to its
transportation for all. Its disregard and negligence should not be
tolerated any longer.” “People who use wheelchairs or other assistive
devices have few options for transportation in the city. This makes it
difficult to carry out everyday activities such as work, shopping, and
medical appointments, and leads to social isolation,” explains Brett
Eisenberg, Executive Director of the Bronx Independent Living Center
(BILS). “The options are even further limited in the boroughs outside
Manhattan.” Christina Curry, Executive Director of the Harlem
Independent Living Center explains, “At HILC, we focus on getting
equality, accessibility and accommodation for individuals with
disabilities. Use of the subway system provides an important part of
that mission and provides an independence that cannot be overstated.”
“New York City wouldn’t be New York City without the subways, but without
the subways, people with disabilities find it tough to take in all the
city has to offer,” said Joseph G. Rappaport, Brooklyn Center for
Independence of the Disabled’s (BCID) Executive Director. “Just getting
to a job or from one neighborhood to another becomes an
incredible hassle, which is why we’ve joined these lawsuits.” Susan
Dooha, Executive Director of Center for Independence of the Disabled, New
York (CIDNY), says, “Subway accessibility is about more than just getting
around for people with disabilities. It’s about dignity and respect for
our civil rights. It’s about getting to work and living in the
community. So long after the passage of the ADA and the New York City
Human Rights law, we should not have to go to court to insist that subway
elevators work and are safe and clean. It’s time for the MTA to obey the
law.” “At the MTA’s current rate of elevator installation, it would
take the MTA more than 100 years before 100% accessibility would be
achieved. Clearly, we can’t wait that long for equal access rights,”
says Anthony Trocchia, President of Disabled in Action (DIA). Thestate
suit (PDF) demands that the MTA undertake a concentrated effort to
install elevators at stations over a reasonable period of years.
Thefederal suit (PDF) calls for a plan to address the dangerous rate of
breakdowns and the lack of contingency planning for closures. A copy of
this press release and both suits is available at
http://dralegal.org/press/unpreceden...-users-others/
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Old 04-28-2017, 03:23 AM
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Default more about the organizations behind the lawsuits

About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) Disability Rights Advocates is
the leading national nonprofit disability rights legal center. With
offices in Berkeley and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal
rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities
nationwide. In recent years, DRA has brought successful suits in the
City of New York, challenging the exclusion of people with disabilities
from taxis, polling sites, and emergency preparedness plans. For more
information, visit http://dralegal.org. About Sheppard, Mullin,
Richter & Hampton, LLP Sheppard Mullin is a full service Global 100 firm
with 780 attorneys in 15 offices located in the United States, Europe and
Asia. Since 1927, companies have turned to Sheppard Mullin to handle
corporate and technology matters, high stakes litigation and complex
financial transactions. In the U.S., the firm’s clients include more
than half of the Fortune 100. For more information, please
visithttps://www.sheppardmullin.com. About Bronx Independent Living
Services (BILS)
Bronx Independent Living Services (BILS) is an independent living center
located at 4419 Third Avenue, Bronx, New York. Founded in 1983, BILS is a
consumer-based, non-profit organization providing services and advocacy
for independent living for individuals with disabilities. BILS’s mission
is to ensure full integration, independence, and equal opportunity for all
people with disabilities by removing barriers to the social, economic,
cultural, and civic life of the community. For more information,
visithttp://bils.org/ About Brooklyn Center for Independence of the
Disabled (BCID) The Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled,
founded in 1956, is part of the independent living movement, which seeks
to empower all people with disabilities to live full, independent lives.
Our staff, composed largely of people with disabilities, offers services
and runs advocacy campaigns to make housing, transportation and other
aspects of daily living accessible to all. BCID has worked closely on
several accessibility campaigns with Disability Rights Advocates. DRA
represents us in BCID v. Bloomberg, which forced the City of New York to
agree to new evacuation procedures for people with disabilities after
Hurricane Sandy; and Taxis For All Campaign v. Taxi and Limousine
Commission, a landmark decision requiring 50% of New York City’s yellow
taxis to be accessible by 2020. For more information,
visithttp://bcid.org/. About Center for Independence of the Disabled,
New York (CIDNY) The Center for Independence of the Disabled in New York
is a leading advocate for people with disabilities in New York City. It
was founded in 1978 to ensure full integration, independence and equal
opportunity for all people with disabilities by removing barriers to the
social, economic, cultural and civic life of the community. In 2016,
CIDNY served nearly 23,000 New Yorkers. For more information,
visithttp://www.cidny.org. About Disabled in Action of Metropolitan
New York (DIA) Founded in 1970, Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New
York is a democratic, nonprofit membership organization consist primarily
of and is directed by people with disabilities. DIA is a civil rights
organization committed to ending discrimination against people with
disabilities. DIA fully embraces the empowering motto “Nothing about us,
without us!" For more information, visithttp://www.disabledinaction.org/
About Harlem Independent Living Center (HILC) Harlem Independent Living
Center was incorporated on May 31, 1990 provide access to independent
living services to these un-served and underserved individuals and to
expand the system of independent living available to all New Yorkers.
HILC assists the communities of people with disabilities in achieving
optimal independence through culturally and linguistically appropriate
services by advocating, educating, empowering and being a community change
catalyst. For more information, visit http://www.hilc.org/
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