Disabled In Action of Metropolitan New York (DIA), et al. v. The City of New York, et al.
Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”) filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department and the City of New York in October 2016 on behalf of four individual plaintiffs who were unable to get into their precincts to make crime reports, attend community safety meetings, or otherwise access the services provided at stations throughout the five boroughs. Two disability rights organizations, Disabled in Action and Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled, are also represented in the suit.
Individuals can go to station houses to seek refuge when they feel unsafe or to report crimes, file police reports, attend community affairs and services such as crime prevention programs, neighborhood watch meetings and drop off programs for expired medications. Yet Plaintiffs say they are regularly confronted with insurmountable steps at entrances and no reasonable alternatives for entry. They tell of lifts that are regularly broken or have missing keys necessary for operation, unmarked and unsafe alternate routes, front desks that they cannot see over and bathrooms that are too small for a wheelchair. Due to these barriers, persons with mobility disabilities are systemically denied equal access to the NYC’s police stations and the programs and services that they offer to the community.
Both sides hired specialists to survey 25 police stations each for compliance with the ADA. In March 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the City’s specialist did not follow the correct procedures for measuring accessibility barriers and could not provide testimony in the case about the accessibility of police stations. At the same time, the Court ruled that the Plaintiffs’ expert used reliable methods to measure stations for compliance and could testify about the measurements she obtained showing significant deviance from the ADA Standards at all of the stations she surveyed.