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Civil Rights Advocates Challenge Metro-North’s Failure to Provide Wheelchair Access to the Upgraded Port Chester Station

Editors Note: Sound familiar?
New York City, NY December 24, 2014

Today, Disability Rights Advocates (“DRA”) and Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, on behalf of the Westchester Independent Living Center (“WILC”) and two wheelchair users, filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court alleging that Metro-North has violated Federal disability civil rights laws by spending millions of taxpayer dollars renovating the Port Chester Station without making the station accessible to wheelchair users.

The Port Chester Metro-North Station serves more than 40,000 commuters each day, hundreds of whom have mobility disabilities, and is the primary access point to the New Haven Line for residents of Port Chester and Rye Brook.

Since 2008, Metro-North has spent millions of dollars on renovations that have made the Port Chester Metro-North Station a hub of transportation and commerce in Westchester County. The renovations included the opening of a restaurant and beer garden in the main station building, among other amenities.

When such renovations are made to transit stations, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that the altered portions of the stations be made accessible.

Unfortunately, Metro-North ignored the requirements of the ADA. As a result, the northbound platform remains inaccessible to wheelchair users and thousands of residents and visitors in the region do not have access to station and its amenities. Northbound wheelchair users must avoid the station altogether or take the train out of their way to the next stop and wait for a southbound train, just to be able to stop at Port Chester.

Despite multiple complaints from the disability community and a letter of finding from the United States Department of Transportation indicating that Metro-North failed to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Metro-North has refused to ensure that its facilities are accessible to wheelchair users. As a result, WILC and the individual wheelchair users had no choice but to file suit.

About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)

Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading nonprofit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley, California and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.

DRA’s recent work in New York City has resulted in a landmark settlement to make half of the City’s taxi fleet accessible to wheelchair users, a federal court order requiring the City to make its polling sites accessible to voters with disabilities on Election Day, and a victory at trial in in the class-action lawsuit challenging New York City’s failure to plan for the needs of persons with disabilities in large scale disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. More information can be found at http://www.dralegal.org.

About Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton LLP

Sheppard Mullin is a full service Global 100 firm with 670 attorneys in 15 offices located in the United States, Europe and Asia. Since 1927, companies have turned to Sheppard Mullin to handle corporate and technology matters, high stakes litigation and complex financial transactions.

In the U.S., the firm’s clients include more than half of the Fortune 100. Sheppard Mullin also has a long tradition of providing legal services to people and community organizations who could otherwise not afford access to critical legal representation. For more information, please visit http://www.sheppardmullin.com.

Press Contact Information

Daniel Brown, Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton LLP, (212) 634-3095, dbrown@sheppardmullin.com

Rebecca Rodgers, Disability Rights Advocates, (212) 664-8644, rrodgers@dralegal.org

Stuart Seaborn, Disability Rights Advocates CA, (818) 261-3484, sseaborn@dralegal.org

Reproduced from http://www.dralegal.org/pressroom/press-releases/civil-rights-advocates-challenge-metro-norths-failure-to-provide-wheelchair