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Case Name Butler v. City of New York PB-NY-0039
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-03783 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
In this case, New York City residents with disabilities who are homeless alleged that the city's homeless services failed to accommodate them. On May 15, 2015, several named plaintiffs who are homeless and disabled filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court of the Southern District of ... read more >
In this case, New York City residents with disabilities who are homeless alleged that the city's homeless services failed to accommodate them. On May 15, 2015, several named plaintiffs who are homeless and disabled filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court of the Southern District of New York. The plaintiff sued the city of New York and New York City's Department of Homeless Services (DHS) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the New York State Civil Rights Law, the New York State Social Services Law, and the City Administrative Procedure Act. They also alleged defendants' conduct violated the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution and the New York State Constitution. Represented by The Legal Aid Society and private counsel, plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief along with compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. The case was initially assigned to Judge Robert Sweet.

Plaintiffs alleged that DHS failed to make reasonable accommodation for those with disabilities. They claimed that DHS's intake procedures and placement practices violated the ADA by failing to provide accommodations for mobility, visual, and auditory impairments. They also alleged that DHS routinely denied class members placement in shelters because they failed to consider how disabilities could invalidate the feasibility of alternative housing options. Finally, even when DHS actually provides shelter to homeless individuals with disabilities, the complaint alleged that the shelters do not have reasonable accommodations for visual, dietary, and physical disabilities.

The court certified plaintiffs' class on October 20, 2016. The class covers those who have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and are currently living in a DHS shelter system or tried or will try to access services or received any services through the DHS shelter system after May 14, 2012.

The parties reached a settlement just over a year later on September 6, 2017 and the court approved it on November 7, 2017. DHS agreed to make the system accessible for people with disabilities and attempt to identify individuals who may require accommodation who may need accommodations even if they do not request them. Additionally, DHS agreed to attempt to identify further problems with its systems and practices as they relate to people with disabilities. DHS also agreed to train its staff about the rights of people with disabilities and the settlement itself.

On October 1, 2018, the court granted compensatory damages for the named plaintiffs totaling $145,000. It also dismissed the individual damages claims in the same order.

On July, 8 2021, plaintiffs moved for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and a preliminary injunction to enforce the terms of their settlement. According to plaintiffs' motion, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, DHS housed class members in hotel rooms. Plaintiffs alleged that DHS ended this practice in July of 2021—placing class members back into congregate shelters instead. Due to class members' disabilities, DHS's change of course put class members at higher risk of contracting COVID. And due to their disabilities, class members were more likely to suffer severe consequences of infection.

The court granted plaintiffs' motion for TRO and preliminary injunction on July 13 and 21, respectively. The TRO was scheduled to end on August 19, 2021, but the parties reached a new settlement and the court approved their agreement on August 20, 2021. As part of the settlement, defendants agreed to enact reasonable procedures to accommodate class members' needs given the dangers posed by the pandemic. This ensured that class members would be able to either stay in the hotels or moved to an alternative suitable location.

Jordan Katz - 10/12/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Training
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Hearing impairment
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Disparate Impact
Emergency shelter
Government Services (specify)
Housing assistance
Placement in shelters
Poverty/homelessness
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
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
State law
Defendant(s) City of New York
Steven Banks
Plaintiff Description All individuals with a disability within the meaning of the ADA, who presently reside in the DRS Shelter System or who, since 6/14/12, have sought or received, or will seek or receive, shelter or shelter-related services in the DHS Shelter System, whose disability may affect their ability to meaningfully access shelter or shelter-related services, and who are not otherwise covered under the Consent Decree and Judgement.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2021 - 2021
Filed 05/15/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Notice of Proposed Settlement of Class Action Concerning Access to Shelter for Individuals with Disabilities in the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Shelter System
Coalition for the Homelessness
Date: Sep. 2, 2017
By: Coalition for the Homelessness
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
09/28/2021
1:15-cv-03783-VEC
PB-NY-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
05/15/2015
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-NY-0039-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
08/03/2016
Amended Class Action Complaint for Discrimination; Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 28]
PB-NY-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
09/06/2017
Motion to Approve the Proposed Stipulation and Order of Partial Settlement [ECF# 61]
PB-NY-0039-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/17/2021
Stipulation of Settlement [ECF# 53]
PB-NY-0039-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Public.Resource.Org
S.D.N.Y.
08/20/2021
Stipulation and Order [ECF# 141]
PB-NY-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Caproni, Valerie Elaine (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alderdice, Jacob (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-9000
Alsarraf, Ali Ibrahim (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-9000
Carberry, Paul B (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Fanneron, Evelyn Ann (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Goldfein, Joshua E. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Goldiner, Judith (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Hofmeister, Beth Christine (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0001 | PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Holder, Adriene L. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-9000
James, Seymour W. Jr. (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0004
Kliff, Kathryn Lynn (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Smalls, Dawn Louise (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Stephens, Kenneth (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0002 | PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-0004 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dervin, James Monroe (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Kruk, Carolyn Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Pestana, Georgia (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0005
Roberts, Thomas B. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0003 | PB-NY-0039-9000
Sprayregen, Sharon (New York) show/hide docs
PB-NY-0039-0005 | PB-NY-0039-9000

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