Liberty Resources, Inc v. the City of Philadelphia
In August 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.
When the lawsuit was filed, some corners lacked curb ramps altogether, while others had ramps that were so narrow, steep, or damaged that they were 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.
In July 2020, the Court certified the case as a class action. In October 2022, DRA achieved commitments from the City of Philadelphia to dedicate significant resources to drastically improve the accessibility of Philadelphia’s sidewalks. Among other actions, the City will install or remediate at least 10,000 curb ramps over the next 15 years, maintain existing curb ramps, and issue annual progress reports, all with the federal court maintaining jurisdiction over the agreement.
The court preliminarily approved the settlement and held a fairness hearing in February 2023, then granted final settlement approval in May 2023, meaning the settlement agreement now has legal effect and the City must begin implementing its requirements. The Court approved all aspects of the Parties’ settlement, overruling any objections.
Under the Settlement Agreement, the City must:
- Install or remediate at least 10,000 curb ramps over the 15-year Settlement Period, with 2,000-ramp milestones every three years.
- Install accessible curb ramps where they are missing and fix curb ramps where they are noncompliant whenever the City newly constructs or alters a road or street with a pedestrian walkway, unless crossing is banned for all pedestrians due to safety concerns or a fully compliant curb ramp is technically infeasible.
- Maintain those curb ramps over which it has responsibility in operable working condition.
- Establish a Curb Ramp Request System for City residents to request installation, remediation, or maintenance of ramps at any crossing identified in the Settlement. The Settlement sets out timelines for prompt investigation and fulfillment of requests.
- Post progress reports on the City’s official website on the number and location of curb ramps installed or remediated under the agreement.
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 and the certified Class are represented by DRA and David Ferleger, who will monitor the City’s compliance with the Settlement Agreement over the course of its 15-year term.
- May 8, 2023: Federal Court Approves Settlement Agreement Between Community Members With Disabilities and the City of Philadelphia to Fix or Install 10,000 Curb Ramps Over the Next 15 Years
- October 14, 2022: Community Members with Disabilities Reach Agreement with City of Philadelphia to Fix or Install 10,000 Curb Ramps Over the Next 15 Years
- August 26, 2019: Community Members with Disabilities Challenge Philadelphia’s Dangerous and Impassable Sidewalks