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Case Name Gustafson v. University of California-Berkeley ED-CA-0002
Docket / Court 3:97-cv-04016-BZ ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Case Summary
On October 31, 1997, represented by private counsel and attorneys from Disability Rights Advocates, three named individual plaintiffs and an organizational plaintiff (the Coalition for Access and Disability Rights, "CADRE," later re-named as the Boalt Disability Law Society) filed a complaint in ... read more >
On October 31, 1997, represented by private counsel and attorneys from Disability Rights Advocates, three named individual plaintiffs and an organizational plaintiff (the Coalition for Access and Disability Rights, "CADRE," later re-named as the Boalt Disability Law Society) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California alleging that the defendants (the University of California at Berkeley, its board of regents, and chancellor) violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants' discrimination against people with mobility disabilities violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, as well as certain state statutes. Injunctive relief and damages apparently were sought. We do not have a copy of the complaint, but can perceive something of the flow of litigation and settlement efforts from reviewing the docket sheet for this case and the settlement documents eventually filed with the court.

The docket sheet shows that, in March 1998, the parties' stipulation resulted in an order dismissing the case without prejudice. By December of that year, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reopen the case. Magistrate Judge Bernard Zimmerman held conferences during the first half of 1999 to consider that motion. Negotiations between the parties resulted in a stipulation and order in May 1999, vacating a scheduled hearing upon the plaintiffs' motion. During this period, the parties jointly agreed to retain neutral experts to evaluate and recommend ways to improve access at UC-Berkeley for disabled students. Subsequent stipulations extended the time to reopen the case. In May 2000, the court received stipulations regarding mediation and arbitration of issues and certification of a class. The class initially was defined to include students with mobility impairments, but was later expanded to include those with vision impairments. Retired Judge Eugene F. Lynch served as mediator.

Status conferences and case management conferences occurred during the next several years, leading to a September 14, 2004, docket entry reflecting that the case had settled and a final fairness hearing was scheduled for February 2005. Before that hearing, a variety of declarations, attorneys' fee submissions, and other pleadings were filed in support of the settlement. The final fairness hearing was re-set to March 23, 2005, at which Magistrate Judge Zimmerman approved the class action settlement. On May 5, 2005, he signed an order dismissing the case, without prejudice and retaining jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.

The 40-page settlement agreement, plus 60 pages of attachments, covered details of access improvements to be made at UC-Berkeley and required the hiring by the university of a funded assistant provost responsible, for example, to lead disability services, to monitor remediation efforts, to oversee barrier removal, and to train students and faculty concerning needs and rights of students with disabilities. Additional full-time staff persons were also to be hired by the university as access specialists and counselors, an access coordinator, and a disability access resolution officer. Room assignments, campus signage, maps and access guides, parking, transportation improvements, building evacuation and safety, and reporting and monitoring were several of the issues addressed in the comprehensive settlement document. The settlement's terms called for one named plaintiff to receive $2,000 as damages, and the university agreed to pay $2,000 to the Berkeley Center for Independent Living on behalf of a second named individual plaintiff, and $20,000 to the San Francisco State University Institute on Disability on behalf of the third named individual plaintiff. The university agreed to pay plaintiffs' attorneys' fees of $645,000, costs of $16,149.75, and pre-final approval hourly charges (of $300/hour for attorneys and $100/hour for paralegals).

The settlement period was set at 14 years from May 2005. The settlement period expired without any additional substantive docket activity, so the case is now closed.

Mike Fagan - 06/17/2008
Raul Noguera-McElroy - 04/12/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Provide antidiscrimination training
Required disclosure
Mobility impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Barrier Removal
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
School/University Facilities
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 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) The Regents of the University of California
University of California at Berkley
Plaintiff Description U.C. Berkeley students with mobility and/or vision disabilities who were not provided with full and access due to the presence of physical access barriers.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2005 - 2019
Filed 10/31/1997
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Landmark Settlement of Class Action Lawsuit to Improve Disability Access at University of California, Berkeley
Disability Rights Advocates
Date: Mar. 23, 2005
(Disability Rights Advocates)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Mobility around UC Berkeley for disabled students to improve as result of cooperative effort
UC Berkeley News Center
Date: Jan. 12, 2005
By: Marie Felde (Berkeley University of California)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
ED-CA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims [ECF# 58]
ED-CA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
not recorded
Notice of Proposed Settlement of Class Action Lawsuit
ED-CA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
show all people docs
Judges Zimmerman, Bernard S. Court not on record show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Paradis, Laurence W. (California) show/hide docs
ED-CA-0002-0001 | ED-CA-0002-9000
Tollafield, Stephen (California) show/hide docs
Wallace, Guy B. (California) show/hide docs
ED-CA-0002-0001 | ED-CA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blair, Jeffrey A. (California) show/hide docs
ED-CA-0002-0001 | ED-CA-0002-9000
Holst, James E. (California) show/hide docs
Lundberg, John Frederick (California) show/hide docs
Maschler, Brian P. (California) show/hide docs

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