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Case Name Pecunas v. Pennsylvania Department of Transportation DR-PA-0005
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-00016-SJM ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On January 20, 2011, Voices for Independence, a non-profit disability advocacy group, and a class of disabled individuals, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, against Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and Millcreek ... read more >
On January 20, 2011, Voices for Independence, a non-profit disability advocacy group, and a class of disabled individuals, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, against Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and Millcreek Township. The Plaintiffs alleged that the pedestrian walkways, sidewalks, and intersections in Millcreek Township were not in compliance with the accessibility mandates of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701. They alleged that the walkways and intersections were dangerous and that people using wheelchairs were forced to travel in the streets because of the absence of curb cuts. They further alleged that PennDOT and Millcreek had altered the sidewalks, walkways, and intersections, using federal and state funds, in ways that triggered mandatory compliance with ADA guidelines. The number of proposed class members was large; at the time the complaint was filed, Millcreek Township was home to approximately 2000 residents categorized by the US Census Bureau as "Go Outside of Home-Disabled Residents, Noninstitutionalized," and 1000 residents in the category "Sensory-Disabled Residents, Noninstitutionalized." The Plaintiffs alleged that members of the proposed class were segregated from full participation in Millcreek because of the lack of accessible sidewalks. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief, and attorneys' fees.

On October 12, 2011, the court approved a Consent Decree and Partial Settlement between the Plaintiffs and Millcreek Township. PennDOT was not a party to this agreement. Millcreek agreed to ensure all future alterations to or construction of roads made by the Township would have ADA-compliant curb cuts at the intersections. Millcreek agreed to report all road work to the plaintiffs. The agreement contained provisions allowing exceptions where curb cuts were technically unfeasible. Millcreek also agreed to make a report of all newly constructed or altered roads dating back to January 1992 (when the ADA came into effect). The Plaintiffs and Millcreek agreed that they would meet and confer, when this list was completed, to determine a timetable for the retrofitting of these areas where necessary. The agreement acknowledged that Millcreek was not responsible for ensuring the compliance of state roads and highways running through the town. Millcreek agreed to pay $27,2479.97 in attorneys' fees and costs to the Plaintiffs. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the Consent Decree.

Between 2014 and 2016, the parties continued to negotiate for a total of four Consent Decrees and Partial Settlement orders between Plaintiffs and Millcreek Township. Additionally, the court approved three Partial Settlements between Plaintiffs and PennDOT. On November 23, 2016, the court approved a Joint Partial Settlement Agreement among all parties. The Joint Partial Settlement Agreement resolved both of Plaintiff's claims (the Bus Stop claim and the Road Shoulder claim) and required Plaintiffs to make updates to existing infrastructure to comply with ADA requirements. Additionally, the parties agreed that any sidewalk construction within Millcreek Township would comply with ADA guidelines.

On November 30, 2017, the parties proposed a fifth Consent Decree and Partial Settlement, which Judge Hornak approved on December 1, 2017. Under the fifth Consent Decree, the requirements of the four prior consent decrees remain in effect, with the additional incorporation of the Millcreek Transition Plan. The Transition Plan, consistent with the April 2017 preliminary agreement of the parties, identifies the "remaining physical obstacles that limit accessibility of the facilities or park where Millcreek offers a program, service, or activity." It outlines and provides a timeline for the planned improvements and corrections to ensure that Millcreek's programs, services, and activities will be readily accessible to and useable by individuals with disabilities. The case is ongoing and the court retains jurisdiction to enforce the terms of this and the prior consent decrees.

Alex Colbert-Taylor - 06/13/2013
Elena Malik - 11/05/2017
Sarah McDonald - 03/25/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Transportation
Disability
disability, unspecified
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Sidewalks
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Millcreek Township, PA
Pennsylvania
Plaintiff Description Voices for Independence, a non-profit disability advocacy group, and a class of disabled individuals, alleging that defendants Millcreek Township, PA and PennDOT failed to provide accessible sidewalks and curb cuts as required by the ADA.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2011 - n/a
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-00016-SJM (W.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Civil and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 81]
DR-PA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/20/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Approve Consent Decree and Partial Settlement Among Defendant Millcreek Township, PA and Plaintiffs [Consent Decree and Partial Settlement Attached] [ECF# 16]
DR-PA-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion to Approve Consent Decree] [ECF# 17] (W.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/12/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Approve Joint Partial Settlement Among All Parties [ECF# 162]
DR-PA-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fifth Consent Decree and Partial Settlement Among Defendant Millcreek Township and Plaintiffs [ECF# 181-1]
DR-PA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 182] (E.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hornak, Mark Raymond (W.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0005-0006 | DR-PA-0005-9000
McLaughlin, Sean J. (W.D. Pa.)
DR-PA-0005-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Finnegan, John Mark (Michigan)
DR-PA-0005-0001 | DR-PA-0005-0004 | DR-PA-0005-0005 | DR-PA-0005-9000
Heberle, Denise M. (Michigan)
DR-PA-0005-0001 | DR-PA-0005-0004 | DR-PA-0005-0005
Markham, Craig A. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0005-0001 | DR-PA-0005-0004 | DR-PA-0005-0005 | DR-PA-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bradley, Scott A. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0005-0004 | DR-PA-0005-9000
Pavkov, Mark T. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0005-0004 | DR-PA-0005-0005 | DR-PA-0005-9000
Shaw, Mark J. (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0005-0002 | DR-PA-0005-0005 | DR-PA-0005-9000
Watts, Marissa Savastana (Pennsylvania)
DR-PA-0005-0002 | DR-PA-0005-9000

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