The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC), along with co-counsel Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho (GBDH), reached a landmark settlement with the City of San Jose on behalf of a class of persons with mobility disabilities. The settlement requires San Jose to install or remediate over twenty-seven thousand accessible curb ramps throughout the City over the next eighteen years, and to appropriate more than $130 million to fund this work. Importantly, class members are able to request curb ramp construction and remediation at specific locations according to this settlement. The settlement was approved by the Court on September 2, 2020.
Curb ramps provide people with mobility disabilities a safe way to get on and off sidewalks as they travel through the pedestrian right of way. In San Jose alone, there are approximately 157,000 people with mobility disabilities. Missing, broken, or poorly maintained curb ramps prevent people with mobility disabilities from safely using city sidewalks, crosswalks, and other walkways to participate in daily activities like getting to work or going to school.
Tim Fox, Co-Executive Director at CREEC and attorney in this case commented, “We initiated this case after receiving reports of people experiencing life-threatening situations as a result of unsafe curb ramps – including being thrown out of their wheelchairs and onto the pavement of busy streets when the wheel of their chair became lodged in a curb ramp gap or hit other construction defects. One person had to wait for more than ten minutes on the pavement before someone stopped and helped them back into their chair. Clearly this is unacceptable.”
In 2014 and in response to a letter sent by CREEC and GBDH, the City of San Jose agreed to work cooperatively to resolve the claims through structured negotiations. In 2016, the parties finalized an Interim Settlement Agreement and have now reached a full resolution.
Andrew Lee, a Partner at GBDH, states, “Curb ramps are necessary to achieving the integration and equal opportunity mandates of the ADA and other disability non-discrimination laws. As a result of this settlement, residents and visitors of San Jose with mobility disabilities will no longer have to choose between risking their personal safety by traveling in the streets or staying home and foregoing participation in community life.”
“Federal and state disability access laws were enacted decades ago to provide persons with disabilities an equal opportunity to fully participate in civic life,” said Fox. “We are pleased to be working with the City of San Jose to fulfill the promise of those laws by ensuring that people with mobility disabilities can travel independently and safely throughout their city and we encourage all cities to ensure that their pedestrian way accessibility meets or exceeds legal requirements.”
Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) is a nonprofit membership organization whose goal is to ensure that everyone can fully and independently participate in our nation’s civic life without discrimination based on race, gender, disability, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity. https://creeclaw.org/
Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho is one of the oldest and most successful plaintiffs’ public interest class action law firms in the country. GBDH represents individuals against large companies and other entities in complex class and collective action lawsuits. The firm has three primary practice areas: employment discrimination, wage and hour violations, and disability access, and also brings other public interest cases, including voting rights, environmental protection, and consumer cases. The firm has a national practice, litigating cases in federal and state courts throughout the country. https://gbdhlegal.com/