CLASS ACTION FILED OVER LOS ANGELES’ FAILURE TO MAKE SIDEWALKS ACCESSIBLE FOR PEOPLE WITH MOBILITY DISABILITIES

 

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 8, 2008 – For years, people with mobility disabilities have been denied access to the City of Los Angeles’ system of sidewalks.  Today, a class action law suit was filed in Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles (Pineda, et al., v. City of Los Angeles, et al., Case #: BC403327) against the City on behalf of people with mobility disabilities. The lawsuit addresses violations of state and federal laws that protect people with disabilities, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act. 

 

Providing the most basic connection between all aspects of the City, sidewalks are an essential element of the public realm.  The lawsuit alleges that systematic barriers have made these sidewalks inaccessible for individuals with disabilities.  The suit also claims that some sidewalks are too narrow or have insufficient clearance due to obstacles.  Furthermore, numerous intersections lack of curb ramps and have poorly maintained curb ramps that force people who use wheelchairs to travel in the city streets. 

“Broken, cracked, raised, or poorly maintained sidewalks prevent individuals with disabilities from participating in the social and economic life of the City of Los Angeles,” said Shawna L. Parks of the Disability Rights Legal Center, a non-profit law firm that is representing the plaintiffs.  Everyday these barriers force people with mobility disabilities to choose between their safety or participation in various parts of the community, including going to work, school or even the market.  To avoid rough sidewalks or because there are no curb ramps, people with mobility disabilities often must travel on the street along vehicular traffic.”

 

“The ADA and California law require that the City ensure its system of sidewalks is accessible for people with mobility disabilities so that they can conduct their daily activities independently and not be segregated from the community,” added Guy Wallace of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP, who is also representing the plaintiffs.   

 

The lawsuit alleges that the City has not adequately addressed the deplorable condition of its system of sidewalks.  With an estimate of nearly half of the City’s sidewalks being in need of repair, it would take roughly 80 years to deal with all of the current broken and inaccessible sidewalks based on current policies and procedures.  The estimate does not include accessible sidewalks that will become damaged or worn during the intervening years.  The suit also claims the City has been reducing the number of curb ramps installed in the past few years and it has no apparent plan to maintain curb ramps once built.  Based on the City’s current procedure for addressing individual complaints, it may take several years to have curb ramps installed at a requested intersection, if at all.  In addition, the suit also claims that apron parking, which is when parked cars block sidewalks mostly in densely populated areas with limited parking, also creates major barriers for people with disabilities in the City of Los Angeles.

 

Plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief from the City of Los Angeles by requesting the City to develop a comprehensive plan to identify and remedy inaccessible sidewalks, install and maintain appropriate curb ramps and prevent apron parking. 

 

In addition to Parks and Wallace, the plaintiffs are represented by Paula Pearlman, Debra Patkin and Sage Reeves of the Disability Rights Legal Center and Clint J. Brayton, Christian Schreiber, Andrew P. Lee and Naomi B. Sunshine of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP.

 

About Disability Rights Legal Center:

The Disability Rights Legal Center, located on the campus of Loyola Law School, has been offering legal services since 1975 to people with disabilities through a variety of projects. The DRLC’s Civil Rights Litigation Project provides free legal representation to people with disabilities encountering discrimination in violation of their civil rights, and focuses on cases addressing wide-spread or systemic discrimination against people with disabilities. On the Web: www.disabilityrightslegalcenter.org

 

About Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP:

Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP is a dedicated group of California trial lawyers committed to continuing the work of the civil rights movement through individual and class action litigation. For 15 years, the firm’s attorneys have handled matters involving: class action lawsuits involving disability rights employment discrimination wage and hour and consumer rights. On the Web: www.schneiderwallace.com