Center for Independence of the Disabled New York (CIDNY) v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) (N.Y. State Supreme Court)

Click here for case documents Date Filed: 04/25/2017 Status:

This case challenges the MTA’s failure to install elevators at all New York City’s subway stations. DRA has a second, related case challenging the MTA’s failure to maintain the few elevators that currently exist.

On April 25, 2017, DRA filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Transit Authority (“NYCTA”), Metropolitan Transit Authority (“MTA”), and New York City (“the City”) for their failure to make the subway system programmatically accessible for persons whose mobility and other disabilities restrict them from using stairs. The City’s subway system has long been City’s lifeline, enabling over 6 million people per day to participate in its economic, political, cultural and civic life. Indeed, an average resident of New York depends on subways to carry out a vast array of essential tasks every day of his/her life.

For people with disabilities, however, meaningful access to the subway system has remained all but illusory. The rare accessible stations tend to be spaced out by at least 30 blocks and constitute less than 25 percent of the total number of stations. In numerous parts of the City, residents with disabilities have no access whatsoever. As a result, they remain completely barred from a mode of transportation that has shaped City’s life in a way that is unparalleled elsewhere in the country.

DRA’s ultimate goal is to ensure that the Defendants institute a comprehensive remedial scheme that can meaningfully address this devastating exclusion of people with disabilities from one of the nation’s largest and most important public transportation systems.

Justice Hagler, ruling from the bench in June 5th, 2019, denied the MTA and the City of New York’s motions to dismiss our case and ruled that our lawsuit can now go forward. As Judge Hagler stated “there is no license by the MTA, by any other agency to discriminate against any individual by race, minority, ethnicity or disability.”

On February 22, 2021, the New York Supreme Court certified a class of all people with disabilities for whom the use of stairs is difficult or impossible and who are therefore unable to access over 75% of the New York City subway. The Court’s order appointed Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, Bronx Independent Living Services, Harlem Independent Living Center, Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York, New York StateWide Senior Action Council, Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, Dustin Jones, and Chris Pangilinan as class representatives to represent and zealously advocate for the rights of all people affected by this discriminatory exclusion. The order also appointed Disability Rights Advocates and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as class counsel.

This decision allows the civil rights lawsuit to be addressed on behalf of not just the plaintiffs, but all New Yorkers with disabilities who cannot access the subway.

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