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Case Name Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority DR-PA-0001
Docket / Court 2-03-cv-01577 ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Steve Gold
Case Summary
On March 3, 2003, Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania (DIA) brought this action against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) alleging that SEPTA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 ... read more >
On March 3, 2003, Disabled in Action of Pennsylvania (DIA) brought this action against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) alleging that SEPTA violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (RA) after it completed two construction projects on its public transit facilities in Philadelphia and did not make the facilities sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities.

DIA, represented by attorneys from the Disability Law Project and a private disability rights firm, asked the court for injunctive relief requiring SEPTA to make the stations accessible to persons who use wheelchairs by constructing elevators at the City Hall Station and the 15th Street Courtyard, which provides access to the 15th Street Station.

Specifically, DIA alleged that SEPTA replaced an existing stairway at the 15th Street Courtyard without making the entrance accessible to persons in wheelchairs, and that SEPTA replaced an existing escalator at the City Hall Station Broad Street entrance but did not make the entrance accessible to persons using wheelchairs.

DIA's fourth amended complaint alleged that SEPTA violated the ADA and RA by making "alterations" to the 15th Street Courtyard and the City Hall Station without also making the affected portions of the facilities accessible to individuals with disabilities. Additionally, DIA alleged that the 15th Street Station and City Hall Station were "key stations" under the ADA and RA. Therefore, SEPTA was required to make those stations handicapped accessible.

On May 15, 2003, the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Judge Clifford Scott Green) granted SEPTA's motion to dismiss under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure R. 19(b) for DIA's failure to join the City of Philadelphia as a defendant. SEPTA argued that joinder of the City of Philadelphia was required, because the property at issue was owned by the City. On June 4, 2003 the District Court (Judge Green) granted DIA's motion vacating the May 15, 2003 order granting dismissal. On June 12, 2003, DIA filed an amended complaint, which included the City of Philadelphia as a defendant.

DIA reached a settlement agreement with the City of Philadelphia on August 16, 2004. The terms of the agreement provided that the City encouraged and would permit SEPTA to construct ADA-compliant elevators at the City Hall Station and the 15th Street Courtyard. On August 19, 2004, the case was reassigned and on November 30, 2004, the Court (Judge Gene E.K. Pratter) granted DIA's motion to dismiss the City of Philadelphia pursuant to the settlement agreement.

On January 7, 2004, DIA filed its third amended complaint, adding the "key station" claim. On December 23, 2004, the District Court (Judge Pratter) granted in part and denied in part SEPTA's motion to dismiss and motion to strike portions of DIA's third amended complaint. Specifically, the District Court (Judge Pratter) denied SEPTA's motion to strike DIA's allegations that SEPTA violated the "key station" provisions of Title II of the ADA, but DIA was ordered to strike allegations relating to an alleged agreement SEPTA made to construct elevators at City Hall in lieu of construction of an elevator at the 15th Street Station.

On February 15, 2005, DIA filed a fourth amended complaint, and alleged that SEPTA's renovations to both the 15th Street Courtyard and City Hall Station constituted "alterations" that triggered ADA and RA accessibility obligations.

The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on April 5, 2006. On November 17, 2006, the Court (Judge Pratter) granted SEPTA's motion for summary judgment regarding all of DIA's claims. Disabled in Action of Pa. v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., No. 03-CV-1577, 2006 WL 3392733 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 17, 2006). The Court (Judge Pratter) held that DIA's claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations, because the claims accrued when DIA knew, or had reason to know, that SEPTA's renovations would not include elevators. DIA filed its claims more than two years after those dates. DIA subsequently appealed.

On March 27, 2007, the United States filed an amicus curiae brief in support of DIA urging a reversal of the Court's summary judgment in favor of SEPTA.

On August 19, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Judge Michael D. Fisher; Judge Thomas M. Hardiman, Judge Walter King Stapleton) reversed the District Court and remanded the case. Disabled in Action of Pa. v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., 539 F.3d 199 (3rd Cir. 2008). The Third Circuit (Judges Fisher, Hardiman, Stapleton) held that the accrual date of a discrimination claim depends on when the discrimination occurred and that discrimination did not occur until the construction was completed. Therefore, DIA's claims were not barred by the statute of limitations.

On November 04, 2008, DIA filed its motion for summary judgment. On January 16, 2009, SEPTA filed its motion for summary judgment. On September 11, 2009, the United States District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Judge Pratter) granted DIA's motion for summary judgment. Disabled in Action of Pa. v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., 655 F. Supp. 2d 553 (E.D.Pa. 2009). The Court (Judge Pratter) held that SEPTA's construction work at both the 15th Street Courtyard and City Hall Station were "alterations" under the ADA and RA. Therefore, the ADA and RA required SEPTA to make both locations readily accessible to individuals with disabilities.

SEPTA appealed the District Court decision. On February 16, 2011, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Judge Julio M. Fuentes, Judge Kent A. Jordan, Judge Anthony Joseph Scirica) affirmed the District Court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of DIA Disabled in Action of Pa. v. Southeastern Pa. Transp. Auth., No. 09-3964, 2011 WL 522947 (3rd Cir. Feb. 16, 2011). The Third Circuit held that the ADA must be interpreted liberally to provide equal access for disabled persons to public facilities. The court concluded that the City Hall Station and 15th Street Courtyard construction projects were "alterations" under the ADA, even though they were not "major structural alterations." Additionally, the court held that the ADA required SEPTA to make the alterations "to the maximum extent feasible" regardless of their cost, because "feasible" referred to technical matters and not economic costs. Furthermore, the court held that the 15th Street and the City Hall stations were not already "readily accessible" merely because there were disabled accessible elevators at other portions of the underground concourse connecting the 15th Street, City Hall, and Suburban Station.

On remand, the case finally settled; a consent decree was entered September 16, 2011, approved by Judge Pratter. The decree provided that SEPTA would install several elevators at the relevant stations, make fare lines accessible, and pay attorneys fees of about $500,000. It also required SEPTA to provide status reports to plaintiffs counsel, quarterly.

Joe Reiter - 08/29/2011


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Transportation
Disability
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Barrier Removal
Government Services (specify)
Reasonable Accommodations
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) City of Philadelphia
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy and services to people with disabilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Steve Gold
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2011 - 2013
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:03-cv-01577-GP (E.D. Pa.) 09/16/2011
DR-PA-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
DEFENDANT SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY'S RULE 12(b)(7) MOTION TO DISMISS PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT DUE TO PLAINTIFF'S FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE FEDERAL RULES REQUIREMENTS UNDER 19(a) OF COMPULSORY JOINDER 04/24/2003
DR-PA-0001-0019 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 05/15/2003 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0020 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 06/04/2003 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR PARTIAL PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION 01/05/2004
DR-PA-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
DEFENDANT SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY’S MOTION TO DISMISS AND MOTION TO STRIKE PORTIONS OF PLAINTIFF’S THIRD AMENDED COMPLAINT 07/01/2004
DR-PA-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Settlement Agreement 08/16/2004
DR-PA-0001-0021 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 08/29/2004 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum 11/30/2004 (224 F.R.D. 601) (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER 12/27/2004 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FOURTH AMENDED COMPLAINT 02/15/2005
DR-PA-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFF DISABLED IN ACTION OF PENNSYLVANIA’S MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT 03/29/2005
DR-PA-0001-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
ORDER 06/09/2005 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0018 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFF DISABLED IN ACTION OF PENNSYLVANIA’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 04/05/2006
DR-PA-0001-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
DEFENDANT SEPTA’S BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 04/05/2006
DR-PA-0001-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
DEFENDANT SEPTA’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 04/05/2006
DR-PA-0001-0011 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER 11/17/2006 (2006 WL 3392733 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 84730) (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0026 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
BRIEF FOR THE UNITED STATES AS AMICUS CURIAE SUPPORTING APPELLANT AND URGING REVERSAL 03/27/2007
DR-PA-0001-0017 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
OPINION OF THE COURT 08/19/2008 (539 F.3d 199)
DR-PA-0001-0023 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
PLAINTIFF DISABLED IN ACTION OF PENNSYLVANIA’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 11/04/2008
DR-PA-0001-0012 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
SEPTA'S BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF ITS MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON PLAINTIFF'S REMAINING CLAIMS AND IN OPPOSITION TO DIA'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 01/16/2009
DR-PA-0001-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
ORDER 09/11/2009 (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
MEMORANDUM 09/11/2009 (655 F.Supp.2d 553) (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0024 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
BRIEF OF APPELLANT, SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY 05/05/2010
DR-PA-0001-0016 PDF | Detail
BRIEF FOR APPELLEE 06/02/2010
DR-PA-0001-0015 PDF | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
OPINION OF THE COURT 02/16/2011 (635 F.3d 87)
DR-PA-0001-0025 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree 09/16/2011
DR-PA-0001-0022 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Fisher, D. Michael (Third Circuit)
DR-PA-0001-0023
Fuentes, Julio M. (Third Circuit)
DR-PA-0001-0025
Giles, James Tyrone (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0005
Green, Clifford Scott (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0002 | DR-PA-0001-0020
Hardiman, Thomas Michael (Third Circuit, W.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0023
Jordan, Kent A. (Third Circuit, D. Del.)
DR-PA-0001-0025
Pratter, Gene E.K. (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0006 | DR-PA-0001-0007 | DR-PA-0001-0014 | DR-PA-0001-0018 | DR-PA-0001-0022 | DR-PA-0001-0024 | DR-PA-0001-0026 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Rice, Timothy R. (E.D. Pa.) [Magistrate]
DR-PA-0001-9000
Scirica, Anthony Joseph (Third Circuit, E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0001-0025
Stapleton, Walter King (Third Circuit, D. Del.)
DR-PA-0001-0023
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gold, Stephen F. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0001 | DR-PA-0001-0003 | DR-PA-0001-0008 | DR-PA-0001-0009 | DR-PA-0001-0012 | DR-PA-0001-0015 | DR-PA-0001-0021 | DR-PA-0001-0022 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Iacullo, Rocco (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0001 | DR-PA-0001-0008 | DR-PA-0001-0009 | DR-PA-0001-0012 | DR-PA-0001-0015 | DR-PA-0001-0021 | DR-PA-0001-0022 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Murphy, Mark J. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0015
Resnick, Robin (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0015
Defendant's Lawyers Bennett, Jo (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0004 | DR-PA-0001-0013 | DR-PA-0001-0016 | DR-PA-0001-0022 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Desipio, Adam A (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0004 | DR-PA-0001-0019 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Klyashtorny, Natalie (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-9000
Krenzel, Saul H (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0004 | DR-PA-0001-0010 | DR-PA-0001-0011 | DR-PA-0001-0019 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Scidurlo, Lisa Marie (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-9000
Tierce, Michael G (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0013 | DR-PA-0001-0016 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Woehrle, Lawrence R (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-9000
Zecca, Mark R (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0001-0021 | DR-PA-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Friel, Gregory (District of Columbia)
DR-PA-0001-0017
Kim, Wan J. (District of Columbia)
DR-PA-0001-0017
Silver, Jessica Dunsay (District of Columbia)
DR-PA-0001-0017

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