Center for Independence of the Disabled New York (CIDNY), et al. v. City of New York, et al.
In July 2014, DRA and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP filed a class action lawsuit against the City of New York challenging widespread, dangerous curb ramps and inaccessible pedestrian routes throughout New York City neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan, where a number of critical services, including government buildings, centers for civic participation, offices, and other places of public accommodation, are located. The lawsuit specifically focused on sidewalks, curb ramps, and other pedestrian routes in Lower Manhattan that remained impassable to persons with disabilities. Additionally, the lawsuit focused on curb ramps that had been broken and crumbling, were too steep to navigate, lacked detectable warnings for blind and low-vision pedestrians, contained high lips at the bottom of the cut, or led directly into a pothole, among other barriers to wheelchair access.
On May 31, 2016, Honorable Judge George B. Daniels held a hearing that included a number of New York City-based disability rights organizations, including American Council of the Blind, Harlem Independent Living Center, Center for Independence of the Disabled New York, Bronx Independent Living Services, United for Equal Access, Inc., Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc., and Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York, Inc. Objecting organizations are represented by DRA and Cravath Swaine & Moore. Following that hearing, Judge Daniels appointed a Special Master to recommend appropriate components for a comprehensive, fair and reasonable settlement agreement. The Special Master issued his recommendations on August 1, 2017. After that, DRA, Sheppard Mullin, counsel for the City, counsel for EPVA, and the counsel for the disability rights organizations that had participated in the fairness hearing engaged in extensive settlement negotiations.
On March 19, 2019, the court issued preliminary approval of the settlement reached by the parties. On July 23, 2019, Judge George B. Daniels of the Southern District of New York approved a historic class action settlement that establishes a comprehensive remedial plan to dramatically improve sidewalk accessibility for New York City’s disability community. To read the settlement, see below.
The agreement requires a comprehensive citywide survey to identify which corners need curb cuts installed or upgraded, as well as a comprehensive schedule for completing the necessary work to make sure every corner in the City becomes accessible. An outside monitor will oversee the agreement.