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Monday, April 11, 2016

New York City Agrees to Class Action Settlement on Curb Ramps Accessibility

from a Press Release on April 7, 2016
United Spinal Association

United Spinal and New York City Reach Settlement on Curb Ramps
United Spinal Association (f/k/a Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association) and New York City have agreed to expand a ground-breaking 2002 settlement in a class action lawsuit that requires the City to install and upgrade wheelchair curb ramps at all of its street corners.

Under the new agreement, the City will continue to spend $20 million per year and will spend another $87.6 million through Fiscal Year 2017 to finish installing and upgrading curb ramps City-wide – all in addition to the $243 million that the City has spent under the 2002 settlement to ramp 97% of its 158,738 corners, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The 2016 Settlement arose out of disputes raised by United Spinal Association with the City over implementation of the 2002 Settlement concerning:
• Installation of curb ramps at the 3% of corners in the City remaining to be ramped (many of which are in high-construction and/or high-density areas);
• The need to upgrade curb ramps which complied with the ADA when they were installed but are no longer ADA-compliant;
• The City’s responses to accessibility complaints concerning unramped corners and non-ADA compliant curb ramps.
To resolve those disputes, the 2016 Settlement requires the City to:
• Continue to spend $20 million per year to install curb ramps.
• Augment those expenditures with $37.6 million in FY 2016 and $37.6 million in FY 2017 to upgrade existing curb ramps City-wide.
• Provide $11.5 million in FY 2016 to upgrade existing ramps in high-construction and/or high density areas.
• The City also will seek additional funds in order to continue upgrading curb ramps after FY 2017.
As 97% of City street corners are now ramped, the City will no longer use neighborhood-by-neighborhood “blitz construction” to install ramps, but will install and upgrade curb ramps, as needed, on corners adjacent to streets that are being resurfaced.

As to accessibility complaints, the 2016 Settlement requires the City to enhance its 311 system to help 311 operators better direct accessibility complaints to appropriate agencies and to modify the New York City Department of Transportation’s website, by including specific links to the agency’s Accessibility Coordinator and by enhancing the website functions to capture curb ramp-specific complaints.

As to training and education, the 2016 Settlement requires the City to train inspectors to better identify and address accessibility issues in and around construction sites and to mount an educational campaign that will highlight for construction permit applicants the importance of providing accessible paths of travel when construction impacts the public right of way.

The Plaintiff Class is represented by:
• Robert B. Stulberg, Esq. and Amy F. Shulman, Esq. of Broach & Stulberg, LLP (212-268-1000;rstulberg@brostul.com), and
• James Weisman, Esq., President, Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel of United Spinal Association (f/k/a Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association) (c/o Ahvi Spindell, Spindell Media Relations, LLC, United Spinal Association ((212) 580-4567; ahvi@spindellmediarelations.com).

“This agreement greatly enhances the landmark relief, achieved over the past 14 years, to assure disabled pedestrians a basic civil right: to be able to cross from one side of the street to the other,” said Robert B. Stulberg of Broach & Stulberg, LLP, Plaintiff Class counsel.

“Now that the great majority of curb ramps have been installed, we felt it was time to revise our agreement. We are glad the City agreed to work with us,” said James Weisman, United Spinal’s CEO.

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