People with disabilities can be the targets of discrimination in a variety of ways. Sometimes it may include being denied housing or employment based on disabilities. Other times, it can include being denied the public facilities necessary to travel to and from one’s housing and/or job. Something as basic as sidewalk maintenance is something that, when not done properly, can result in discrimination against people with disabilities. When that happens, the Atlanta disability discrimination lawyers at our firm are here to help people vindicate their rights.
The most recent piece of news in this area comes from outside Georgia, where the City of Philadelphia agreed last month to settle a lawsuit regarding the disability discrimination that allegedly resulted from the city sidewalks’ state of disrepair.
The group who sued alleged that “the City’s sidewalks, curb ramps, crosswalks, and other paths of pedestrian travel are in a state of severe disrepair and disintegration” and the situation was so bad that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The sidewalks’ state of disrepair was not the only hazard, according to the lawsuit. The city also failed “to remedy obstructions to pedestrian travel, including parked cars, vendor sandwich boards, trash cans, restaurant furniture, and snow piles,” which caused people with disabilities to “routinely fall or sustain injuries while trying to travel within the City.”
As part of the parties’ settlement agreement, the city promised to “install or fix at least 10,000 curb ramps over the next 15 years with 2,000-ramp milestones every three fiscal years, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report. The city also agreed to issue annual progress reports.
The Philadelphia case is not the first time a major city has faced — and ultimately settled — a case involving sidewalks and the ADA. In 2015, the City of Los Angeles settled a class action lawsuit regarding sidewalks and their accessibility. The lawsuit accused the city of failing to keep up its sidewalks sufficiently to allow people with disabilities “who rely on wheelchairs, scooters, and other assistive devices to get around” on them, according to Bloomberg. The settlement was valued at more than $1 billion, with some analysts deeming 40% of the city’s sidewalks as needing repairs.
Dangerous Sidewalks are a Problem for Atlantans With Disabilities, Too
Atlantans with disabilities are all too familiar with these kinds of problems. Back in the ’00s, the U.S. Department of Justice initiated a compliance review of the City of Atlanta under the requirements imposed by the ADA. Eventually, that legal action led to a 2009 settlement in which the city promised to make sidewalk repairs, setting a deadline date of 2012.
Again, as Atlantans with disabilities painfully know firsthand, 2012 has come and gone and the city’s sidewalks remain in a state of disrepair.
That’s why the Atlanta disability discrimination attorneys at Parks, Cheesin, & Walpert stepped in. Our firm, alongside a Decatur firm, is representing a class of people with disabilities who sued the city over its continued lack of compliance with the ADA. Sidewalks in Atlanta are too often cracked, broken, or uneven, or are obstructed by construction, trees, or utility poles. Too many of them are missing curb ramps and, when there are curb ramps, too many of them are broken or aren’t usable for other reasons.
For those reasons, our firm is seeking a federal court injunction that will force the city to retain a neutral third party to audit its sidewalks, then budget the necessary funds and complete all repairs on a timely basis.
If you’re a person with disabilities and you’ve encountered disability-related discrimination, then the knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert are here to help. Contact us through this website or at 404-873-8048 to schedule a consultation and find out more about how we can help you.