On Feburary 22, 2016, eight Oregonians with disabilities and the Association for Oregon Centers of Independent Living (AOCIL) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon under Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiffs requested injunctive relief, asking the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) take action to fix curb ramps around the state.
The plaintiffs alleged that persons using wheelchairs were forced to navigate their chairs in traffic on busy highways because of lack of adequate curb ramps, and that blind people could only guess where and when it is safe to cross the street, in direct violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This act requires state and local governments to ensure persons with disabilities have access to the pedestrian routes in the public right-of-way.
The plaintiffs additionally alleged that ODOT has done little to make the roads safe and accessible to people with disabilities despite its legal obligations. Oregonians with disabilities were barred from the most important streets of their cities and towns by badly-constructed or missing ramps. For instance, in Portland, broken and missing curb ramps on Lombard Street in North Portland prevented people in wheelchairs from safely using public transit and going to stores.
On April 28, 2016, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On May 25, 2016, defendants filed motion to dismiss. On June 22, 2016, a settlement conference was held between the parties. On November 7, 2016, plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint.
On December 5, 2016, plaintiffs and defendants entered into a stipulation of settlement, and submitted joint motion seeking approval of the agreement as a class action settlement. On December 12, 2016, the court granted preliminary approval of proposed class action settlement, subject to further consideration at a hearing at which the Court will determine whether the proposed agreement should be finally approved by the Court.
The settlement included that the parties will jointly arrange to have the notice posted on publicly available websites of the Oregon Department of Transportation, Disability Rights Oregon, and the Association of Oregon Centers for Independent Living, posting it prominently and in a format accessible to people with disabilities, including visual impairments. Also, the Oregon Department of Transportation agreed to post the notice in physical locations, in a manner calculated to reach the members of the class.
The parties are expected to file a joint motion for final approval of the proposed settlement by March 8, 2017 and the Fairness Hearing will be held on March 27, 2017.Ginny Lee - 02/11/2017