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New advancements have taken place in a major class-action lawsuit settled in November 2013, which was brought by the Taxis for All Campaign against New York City. The lawsuit was brought against the city because it was in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for not providing enough wheelchair accessible taxis within its limits.
The agreed upon settlement agreement provided that, by 2020, at least half of the city's 13,000-taxicab fleet would be accessible to wheelchair users. Because the life of most taxicabs only extends from three to five years, the deal requires that as older taxis are retired, taxis that are wheelchair accessible need to be put into service until the 50 percent minimum standard is compliant with the agreement.
It is up to New York's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to adopt the standards and rules that would comply with the settlement agreement.
However, on February 27, 2014, a federal judge agreed to permit a delay in the publication of the new accessibility rules, as well as the subsequent public hearing, so that city lawyers could collaborate and consult with the medallion taxi owners on the appropriate standards that should be put into place. The delay was also due in part to Mayor Bill De Blasio's taking office in January. 

Class-Action Lawsuit Details

The main contention in this class-action suit was due in large part to the significant financial burden that this would pose to the TLC, as wheelchair accessible taxis are more expensive than traditional taxis. However, this argument was not strong enough and the lawsuit was settled. This is the first settlement agreement of its kind to address citywide taxicab access to wheelchair users.

This settlement agreement comes at the right moment; just before the agreement was announced, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, in November 2013, cited 500 city cab vans for not being wheelchair accessible. The definition of "van" was the center of the conflict, and it was determined, under the definition put forth by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, that "vans" were required to carry wheelchair users. The vans that were in contention were the Toyota Siennas and Ford Transit Connects; 472 of these vans did not have the required ramp to make them wheelchair accessible.

Accessibility Rights Guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

According to the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is a minimum standard that communities are required to provide with regards to access to public transportation. Some of the regulation under the requirements of the ADA include:

  • An entity is not allowed to impose special charges on people with disabilities;
  • An entity cannot deny service to a person with disability based solely on his/her disability status;
  • An entity may not require that the person be accompanied by an attendant;
  • A service animal is permitted to escort their owner in any private or public transportation vehicle or facility.

The City of New York is required to provide public transportation that incorporates these rights, and is required to enforce the rights of citizens against private entities who violate ADA requirements.

NYC Attorneys

Beyond enforcing civil rights protections for those who are protected under the ADA, appropriate and accessible NYC mass transit is important for ensuring the safety of its passengers. If you or a loved one has been denied service on mass-transit in New York City, feel free to contact one of our experienced NYC attorneys who can provide you with guidance and counsel and help evaluate your claim for injury-related compensation. Feel free to call at any time at 212-818-0600, or send a message online to one of our many experienced legal professionals at Keogh Crispi, P.C.

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Keogh Crispi

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