D.C. Center for Independent Living, et al. v. District of Columbia
On September 9, 2014, DRA filed a class action lawsuit together with co-counsel from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs against the District of Columbia for its failure to meaningfully include persons with disabilities in its emergency planning. People with disabilities have traditionally faced exceptionally high risk of injury and death during natural disasters. This risk is especially magnified when the jurisdictions do not have plans that adequately account for their needs. The lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of United Spinal Association, the D.C. Center for Independent Living and three individuals representing persons with mobility, vision, hearing and mental disabilities, sought to ensure the remediation of District’s current emergency planning in areas as key as sheltering, transportation, canvassing and emergency communications. Among other things, the lawsuit alleged that the District had failed to adequately plan for emergency communications to deaf and blind persons, provide for accessible evacuation options, and guard against supply chain disruptions for medications and durable medical equipment.
In December 2014, parties began negotiating settlement, which is still ongoing. As with other cases DRA has litigated in this realm, our ultimate goal is to ensure that the District institutes a comprehensive remedial scheme that can meaningfully address the current exclusion of people with disabilities from the District’s emergency planning.