On October 31, 1997, represented by private counsel and attorneys from Disability Rights Advocates, three named individual plaintiffs and an organizational plaintiff (the Coalition for Access and Disability Rights, "CADRE," later re-named as the Boalt Disability Law Society) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that the defendants (the University of California at Berkeley, its board of regents, and chancellor) violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' discrimination against people with mobility disabilities violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, as well as certain state statutes. Injunctive relief and damages apparently were sought. We do not have a copy of the complaint, but can perceive something of the flow of litigation and settlement efforts from reviewing the docket sheet for this case and the settlement documents eventually filed with the court.
The docket sheet shows that, in March 1998, the parties' stipulation resulted in an order dismissing the case without prejudice. By December of that year, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reopen the case. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman held conferences during the first half of 1999 to consider that motion. Negotiations between the parties resulted in a stipulation and order in May 1999, vacating a scheduled hearing upon the plaintiffs' motion. During this period, the parties jointly agreed to retain neutral experts to evaluate and recommend ways to improve access at UC-Berkeley for disabled students. Subsequent stipulations extended the time to reopen the case. In May 2000, the court received stipulations regarding mediation and arbitration of issues and certification of a class. The class initially was defined to include students with mobility impairments, but was later expanded to include those with vision impairments. Retired Judge Eugene F. Lynch served as mediator.
Status conferences and case management conferences occurred during the next several years, leading to a September 14, 2004, docket entry reflecting that the case had settled and a final fairness hearing was scheduled for February 2005. Before that hearing, a variety of declarations, attorneys' fee submissions, and other pleadings were filed in support of the settlement. The final fairness hearing was re-set to March 23, 2005, at which Magistrate Judge Zimmerman approved the class action settlement. On May 5, 2005, he signed an order dismissing the case, without prejudice and retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.
The 40-page settlement agreement, plus 60 pages of attachments, covered details of access improvements to be made at UC-Berkeley and required the hiring by the university of a funded assistant provost responsible, for example, to lead disability services, to monitor remediation efforts, to oversee barrier removal, and to train students and faculty concerning needs and rights of students with disabilities. Additional full-time staff persons were also to be hired by the university as access specialists and counselors, an access coordinator, and a disability access resolution officer. Room assignments, campus signage, maps and access guides, parking, transportation improvements, building evacuation and safety, and reporting and monitoring were several of the issues addressed in the comprehensive settlement document. The settlement's terms called for one named plaintiff to receive $2,000 as damages, and the university agreed to pay $2,000 to the Berkeley Center for Independent Living on behalf of a second named individual plaintiff, and $20,000 to the San Francisco State University Institute on Disability on behalf of the third named individual plaintiff. The university agreed to pay plaintiffs' attorneys' fees of $645,000, costs of $16,149.75, and pre-final approval hourly charges (of $300/hour for attorneys and $100/hour for paralegals).
We have no information reflecting post-settlement activity in the case.Mike Fagan - 06/17/2008