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Case Name Daniels-Finegold v. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority DR-MA-0001
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-11504-MEL ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
In the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, on July 25, 2002, eight named plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ("MBTA"), and two of its' officials, for what the plaintiffs alleged was a systematic failure by the defendants to provide basic, necessary ... read more >
In the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, on July 25, 2002, eight named plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority ("MBTA"), and two of its' officials, for what the plaintiffs alleged was a systematic failure by the defendants to provide basic, necessary public transportation services to plaintiffs and other similarly situated persons having physical, medical, and sensory disabilities. According to the complaint, the defendants' conduct violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12163, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Plaintiffs sought class action status for their case, and declaratory and injunctive relief to mandate compliance with these federal statutes. The complaint asked that the court require MBTA to make numerous specific improvements, such as making stations accessible, providing directional signage, providing telecommunications access, improving passenger elevators, preventing bus drivers from failing to stop for consumers with disabilities, and keeping wheelchair lifts in working condition. The complaint set out specific examples of how each named plaintiff repeatedly suffered from the MBTA's policies, practices and insensitive employees' conduct, and the MBTA's failure to provide equal access to bus and train facilities, as compared to the access available to non-disabled consumers. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from Greater Boston Legal Services, asked also that the court award attorneys' fees and costs.

On September 17, 2002, the MBTA filed an answer to the complaint and, two weeks later, the parties agreed to dismiss the MBTA officials from the case. After a year in which discovery presumably occurred, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on February 9, 2004, as well as a motion that the court certify the case as a class action. The amended complaint added another individual plaintiff, but also added an organizational plaintiff, the Boston Center for Independent Living ("BCIL"). The complaint explained that, in addition to providing services and advocacy for persons with disabilities, the majority of the staff and board of the BCIL were persons with disabilities. The thrust of the allegations and relief sought by the amended complaint matched the original complaint.

On February 17, 2004, the court certified plaintiffs' proposed class in the lawsuit. The class included all individuals with mobility, hearing, or visual disabilities, a defined by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131(2), who use, will use, or would use the bus, light rail, and heavy rail rapid transit services operated by the MBTA who are, or will in the future be, denied equal use of these services because the services are not readily accessible to and usable by individuals with such disabilities;

Depositions and the discovery process continued in the following months. On July 25, 2005, plaintiffs moved for issuance of a preliminary injunction, but two days later joined with the defendant in a motion to stay proceedings. District Judge Morris E. Lasker granted the stay on August 1, 2005. Evidently, settlement discussions occurred in the ensuing period, because on April 20, 2006, Judge Lasker granted the parties' joint motion to approve an April 10, 2006, settlement agreement submitted to the court. The judge ordered publication of the proposed settlement and set a fairness hearing for June 15, 2006.

On June 15, 2006, following a hearing, the judge issued his unpublished order and final judgment approving the settlement. The settlement contained specific obligations for the MBTA to improve aspects of, for example, bus and/or train operations, maintenance, purchase, rehabilitation, access emergencies, station and elevator improvements, and service planning and performance; to provide alternative transportation service, updated staff training and management systems, and improved complaint response; to study accessible service needs, encourage use by disabled persons of MBTA services, and educate the public about the MBTA's providing accessible services; and to conduct bus operator performance monitoring which, itself, would be monitored by a jointly-selected independent court-appointed monitor responsible for assessing compliance with the settlement agreement. The agreement set out a five-year period for the obligations it imposed, with provision for modification of the period and the obligations, as well as dispute resolution.

The docket sheet for the case reflects that, in January 2007, an independent monitor was appointed by Judge Lasker, at the parties' joint request. We have no information showing more recent activity in the case.

Mike Fagan - 06/05/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Masachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
Plaintiff Description Individuals with disabilities who use, or would use, the transportation services offered by MBTA who are, or will in the future be, denied equal use of these services because they aren't readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2006 - 2011
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:02-cv-11504-MEL (D. Mass.) 02/01/2007
DR-MA-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 07/25/2002
DR-MA-0001-0004 PDF | Detail
Stipulation of Dismissal of Defendants James H. Scanlon and Michael E. Mulhern 10/02/2002
DR-MA-0001-0006 PDF | Detail
Amended Complaint 02/09/2004
DR-MA-0001-0005 PDF | Detail
Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Settlement Agreement and Notice of Fairness Hearing 04/20/2006 (D. Mass.)
DR-MA-0001-0002 PDF | Detail
Settlement Agreement 06/15/2006
DR-MA-0001-0001 PDF | Detail
Order for Final Judgment 06/15/2006 (D. Mass.)
DR-MA-0001-0003 PDF | Detail
Judges Lasker, Morris Edward (D. Mass., S.D.N.Y.)
DR-MA-0001-0002 | DR-MA-0001-0003 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bolzan, Anthony L. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0001
Doucette, Tarmattie (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0001 | DR-MA-0001-0004 | DR-MA-0001-0005 | DR-MA-0001-0006 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Kaplan, Todd (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0001
Manning, Daniel S. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0001 | DR-MA-0001-0004 | DR-MA-0001-0005 | DR-MA-0001-0006 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Mitchell-Smith, Caryn (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0004 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Erlich, Scott E. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0006 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Henderson, David C. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0006 | DR-MA-0001-9000
Llach, Salvador M. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-9000
Mitchell, William A. (Massachusetts)
DR-MA-0001-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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