United States Department of Justice Supports Plaintiffs Seeking Effective Large Scale Disaster Planning for New Yorkers with Disabilities

New York, NY – May 10, 2013 The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), filed a statement of interest today that supports Plaintiffs’ position in the federal class action, BCID v. Bloomberg, Case No. 11-cv-6690 (JMF) . Plaintiffs in that matter have alleged that the City of New York fails to properly address the specific needs of people with disabilities in its large scale disaster planning.
The Government’s statement supports the class of 900,000 New York residents with disabilities, including people with vision, hearing, mobility, cognitive and mental health disabilities whose health, safety, and very lives are at risk due to the City’s failure to include their needs in emergency planning.

The DOJ’s statement of interest held that: “Unfortunately, despite the obvious importance of accounting for the unique needs of individuals with disabilities in planning for emergencies, New York City’s emergency plans, like many state and local emergency plans throughout the nation, fail to do so….. Plaintiffs presented significant evidence at trial in support of their claim that the City’s emergency plans, in many areas, exclude individuals with disabilities from benefitting equally from the City’s services, and fail to comply with the [ADA’s] regulations.”

The lawsuit, filed in September 2011 (more than a year before Sandy), on behalf of organizations that serve people with disabilities and individuals with disabilities, seeks effective large scale disaster planning for people with all types of disabilities. In March of 2013, the case went to trial – the first of its kind in the country – and demonstrated that disabled and elderly New Yorkers suffered needlessly in emergencies such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy due to the City’s failure to plan for its most vulnerable populations.

The named plaintiffs are Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID), Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY), Gregory D. Bell and Tania Morales. The plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a non-profit legal center with offices in California and New York City, which specializes in civil rights cases on behalf of persons with disabilities, and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

Shawna Parks of Disability Rights Advocates, said: “We are extremely pleased with the DOJ’s support in this case and urge the City of New York to comply with the law and adopt effective disaster planning to ensure that the City’s 900,000 residents with disabilities do not suffer needlessly when the next disaster strikes.”



Shawna Parks, Co-Director of Litigation (and lead counsel), Disability Rights Advocates, 510-665-8644 or 310-866-7531, sparks@dralegal.org