Liberty Resources, Inc v. the City of Philadelphia
On August 26, 2019, DRA filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that the City of Philadelphia discriminates against residents and visitors with disabilities that affect their mobility by failing to make its sidewalks and pedestrian routes accessible.
Philadelphia’s sidewalks are riddled with barriers that are dangerous and difficult to navigate for people who use mobility devices, such as wheelchairs and motorized scooters, and people who have vision disabilities. Some corners lack curb ramps altogether, while others have ramps that are so narrow, steep, or damaged that they are unusable. When a person who uses a mobility device encounters such a corner they must either back-track and find another—indirect—route, or undertake dangerous maneuvers like “jumping” the curb or traveling in the street alongside vehicular traffic.
Other dangerous barriers include sloping and crumbling sidewalks and crosswalks; unsafe alternate routes during construction; snow pile-ups that block people with disabilities from getting onto or off of the sidewalks; and objects blocking the pedestrian paths, including parked cars, sandwich boards, and outdoor furniture.
Despite being found liable for its failure to provide accessible sidewalks nearly 25 years ago in the landmark case Kinney v. Yerusalim, the City of Philadelphia has continued to shirk its obligations to provide curb ramps and accessible pedestrian routes whenever it resurfaces its streets or otherwise alters its streets and sidewalks. The City has also failed to make timely improvements to its existing sidewalks so that wheelchair users and blind pedestrians can safely travel throughout their city.
The lawsuit seeks to compel the City of Philadelphia to ensure that all individuals with mobility disabilities who need or want to travel through the City can do so safely. To ensure that sidewalks and pedestrian rights-of-way are fully accessible, the City must conduct an evaluation of its entire sidewalk system, and develop a schedule for remediation of all barriers with input from the community.
The class action lawsuit was brought by four individuals with mobility disabilities who live in Philadelphia and three non-profit organizations that advocate for people with disabilities: Liberty Resources, Inc.; Disabled In Action of Pennsylvania; and Philadelphia ADAPT. Plaintiffs are represented by DRA and David Ferleger.