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Case Name Rafferty v. Doar PB-NY-0031
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-01410 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
On March 5, 2013, residents of New York City who were substantially limited in their sight and who were also current or former applicants or recipients of food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Medicaid filed this class action suit. The plaintiffs filed this ... read more >
On March 5, 2013, residents of New York City who were substantially limited in their sight and who were also current or former applicants or recipients of food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or Medicaid filed this class action suit. The plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit because they were unable to receive their benefits even though they were eligible because they were unable to fill out the necessary applications due to their limited sight. The plaintiffs sued the commissioner of the New York Human Resources Administration, the acting commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, the commissioner of the New York Human Resources Administration, and the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. §1983. The case was assigned to Judge Thomas P. Griesa.

On March 12, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to immediately begin providing the plaintiffs, and other similarly situated New York City residents, with alternative formats for communications and applications for Food Stamps and Medicaid. On the same day, the plaintiffs also motioned for class certification.

On August 7, 2013 the court certified the class of “ [a]ll New York City Residents who were substantially limited in seeing, who are current or future applicants for or recipients of Food Stamps and/or Medicaid, and who need materials in accessible alternative formats for effective communication regarding the Food Stamps and/or Medicaid program.”

By August 8, 2013, the parties started to meet in hopes of reaching settlement. Because Judge Griesa believed the parties could reach a settlement, he denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction on December 9, 2013. Over the next two years, the parties engaged in negotiations.

On July 24, 2015, the parties submitted a settlement which the court approved on October 23, 2015. In addition, the court awarded the plaintiffs attorneys’ fees in the amount of $600,000.

The settlement agreement stated that the defendants would provide applications in large print and data formats both in person and online. Publications were to be made available in both primary and alternative formats. The application and online MyBenefits pages were to allow for people to inform social services that they were blind or visually impaired and what alternative format they would prefer. These requests for an alternative format must have been honored without requiring medical documentation to support the request. The SNAP website was to be altered to ensure that people with differing abilities will be able to submit applications and recertification of SNAP benefits online. Certified readers were to be available by telephone during normal business hours to help applicants understand the SNAP and Medicaid applications. Braille alternatives would be available for any person who requests them.

The settlement included a number of date-specific deadlines. It also explained that the district court would retain jurisdiction until a year after that last specified deadline, unless the period was extended by the court. The implementation period is thus ongoing--it is set to end December 2018 or later. The case is ongoing as of July 2018.

Cianan Lesley - 10/25/2017
Jake Parker - 07/03/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Food stamps
Medicaid
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Reasonable Accommodation
Receivership
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Government Services (specify)
Website
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) New York
Plaintiff Description Residents of New York City who were substantially limited in seeing, and who are also current or former applicants or recipients of food stamps and/or Medicaid.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - 2018
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:13-cv-01410-TPG (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-NY-0031-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/05/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Class Certification [ECF# 33] (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Order [ECF# 36] (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Untitled (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement [ECF# 62] (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement for Fees and Costs [ECF# 63] (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Freeman, Debra Carol (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
PB-NY-0031-9000
Griesa, Thomas Poole (S.D.N.Y.)
PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-0003 | PB-NY-0031-0004 | PB-NY-0031-0005 | PB-NY-0031-0006 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bass, Gregory Lee (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0003 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Cohan, Marc (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Daly, Michael (Pennsylvania)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-0003 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Feltham, Nicholas S. (Pennsylvania)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002
Hardwick, Maureen Donahue (District of Columbia)
PB-NY-0031-0001
Hartman, Gerald S. (District of Columbia)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002
LaCheen, Cary (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Link, Joshua Matthew (Pennsylvania)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Mannix, Mary R. (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Pelaez, Jenny Ross (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0001 | PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cardozo, Michael A. (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0002
Fang, Linda (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0002 | PB-NY-0031-0003 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Gasior, John P (New York)
PB-NY-0031-9000
Kruk, Carolyn Elizabeth (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0003 | PB-NY-0031-9000
Longley, Serena Mabel (New York)
PB-NY-0031-9000
Pines, Jonathan (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0002
Schneiderman, Eric T. (New York)
PB-NY-0031-0002

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