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Case Name Center for the Independence of the Disabled v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority PA-NY-0003
Docket / Court 153765-2017 ( State Court )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Public Accomm./Contracting
Case Summary
On April 25, 2017, six organizations focused on disability and senior citizens rights filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Three individual plaintiffs served as the representatives of a prospective class of people discriminated against based on their lack of mobility ... read more >
On April 25, 2017, six organizations focused on disability and senior citizens rights filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Three individual plaintiffs served as the representatives of a prospective class of people discriminated against based on their lack of mobility. The plaintiffs sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) and its interim director, New York City Transit Authority and its acting president, and the city of New York. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated New York City discrimination laws and sought declaratory judgment, attorneys’ fees, and to enjoin the defendants to make the subway more accessible. The case was initially assigned to Judge Benjamin Cohen, but it was transferred to Judge Shlomo Hagler after Judge Cohen recused himself.

The plaintiffs claimed that defendants discriminated against plaintiffs by failing to install elevators or similar vertical accommodations at 360 subway stations (80% of subway stations in New York City). Plaintiffs alleged that people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices, or who are unable to use stairs due to disabilities related to muscle, joint, heart or lung function, were prevented from using the subway. The individual representatives alleged that the inaccessibility of the subway system affected their choice in housing and everyday ability to commute to work. They sought to represent a class of people whose mobility or other disabilities affect their capacity to use stairs, and who were thusly discriminated against due to the lack of accessible vertical access at the vast majority of New York City subway stations.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on July 14, 2017, based on four arguments. First, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The New York City Human Rights Law has a three-year statute of limitations. The defendants argued that they did not do anything to worsen the accessibility of the transit system in the past three years, so the complaint is not timely since the Transit Authority has existed since 1953. Second, the defendants contended that the claim was nonjusticiable because any injunctive relief would embroil the court in a years-long project to oversee the allocation of public funds. Third, the defendants argued that state laws preempted the local statutes, and that the Transit Authority and the MTA were in compliance with the state laws.

Judge Hagler held oral hearings to adjudicate the issues pertaining to the motion to dismiss on June 5, 2019. The Court denied the statute of limitations argument, finding that each day there is a violation, there is a cognizable injury and thus the statute of limitations resets. The Court also denied the nonjusticiability argument; it is the Court’s role to intervene when discrimination occurs in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. Finally, the court also denied the defendant’s argument that the federal and state laws preempted the New York City Human Rights Law, since the state and local statutes have concurrent jurisdiction.

The defendants appealed the Court’s denial of their motion to dismiss. Meanwhile, the parties engaged in limited discovery. The case is ongoing.

Justin Hill - 03/01/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Transportation
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Bathrooms
Disparate Impact
Reasonable Modifications
Transportation
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Metropolitan Transit Authority
New York Transit Authority
Plaintiff Description Six disability-focused non-profit organizations.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/25/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing DR-NY-0012 : Center for Independence of the Disabled v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority (S.D.N.Y.)
Docket(s)
153765-2017 (State Supreme Court)
PA-NY-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/25/2020
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
Complaint
PA-NY-0003-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/25/2017
Source: State Court Website
show all people docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brown, Daniel L (New York) show/hide docs
PA-NY-0003-0001
Caiola, Michelle Anne (New York) show/hide docs
PA-NY-0003-0001
Rodgers, Rebecca Juliet (New York) show/hide docs
PA-NY-0003-0001
Seaborn, Stuart (California) show/hide docs
PA-NY-0003-0001
Wolinsky, Sidney (California) show/hide docs
PA-NY-0003-0001

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