Case: Center for the Independence of the Disabled v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority

17-153765 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: April 25, 2017

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 25, 2017, six organizations focused on disability and senior citizens rights filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Three individual plaintiffs served as the representatives of a prospective class of people discriminated against based on their lack of mobility. The plaintiffs sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) and its interim director, New York City Transit Authority and its acting president, and the city of New York. The plaintiffs allege…

On April 25, 2017, six organizations focused on disability and senior citizens rights filed this lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Three individual plaintiffs served as the representatives of a prospective class of people discriminated against based on their lack of mobility. The plaintiffs sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (“MTA”) and its interim director, New York City Transit Authority and its acting president, and the city of New York. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated New York City discrimination laws and sought declaratory judgment, attorneys’ fees, and to enjoin the defendants to make the subway more accessible. The case was initially assigned to Judge Benjamin Cohen, but it was transferred to Judge Shlomo Hagler after Judge Cohen recused himself.

The plaintiffs claimed that defendants discriminated against plaintiffs by failing to install elevators or similar vertical accommodations at 360 subway stations (80% of subway stations in New York City). Plaintiffs alleged that people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility devices, or who are unable to use stairs due to disabilities related to muscle, joint, heart or lung function, were prevented from using the subway. The individual representatives alleged that the inaccessibility of the subway system affected their choice in housing and everyday ability to commute to work. They sought to represent a class of people whose mobility or other disabilities affect their capacity to use stairs, and who were thusly discriminated against due to the lack of accessible vertical access at the vast majority of New York City subway stations.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on July 14, 2017, based on four arguments. First, the defendants argued that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The New York City Human Rights Law has a three-year statute of limitations. The defendants argued that they did not do anything to worsen the accessibility of the transit system in the past three years, so the complaint is not timely since the Transit Authority has existed since 1953. Second, the defendants contended that the claim was nonjusticiable because any injunctive relief would embroil the court in a years-long project to oversee the allocation of public funds. Third, the defendants argued that state laws preempted the local statutes, and that the Transit Authority and the MTA were in compliance with the state laws.

Judge Hagler held oral hearings to adjudicate the issues pertaining to the motion to dismiss on June 5, 2019. The Court denied the statute of limitations argument, finding that each day there is a violation, there is a cognizable injury and thus the statute of limitations resets. The Court also denied the nonjusticiability argument; it is the Court’s role to intervene when discrimination occurs in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. Finally, the court also denied the defendant’s argument that the federal and state laws preempted the New York City Human Rights Law, since the state and local statutes have concurrent jurisdiction.

The defendants appealed the Court’s denial of their motion to dismiss. Meanwhile, the parties engaged in limited discovery. The case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Justin Hill (3/1/2020)

Related Cases

Center for Independence of the Disabled v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Southern District of New York (2017)


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atkinson, Torie Alisa (New York)

Brown, Daniel L (New York)

Caiola, Michelle Anne (New York)

Jeppe, Ptahra (New York)

Rodgers, Rebecca Juliet (New York)

Seaborn, Stuart (California)

Seelenfreund, Emily (New York)

Sobie, Rebecca J. (New York)

Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)

Wolinsky [inactive], Sidney (California)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atkinson, Torie Alisa (New York)

Brown, Daniel L (New York)

Caiola, Michelle Anne (New York)

Jeppe, Ptahra (New York)

Rodgers, Rebecca Juliet (New York)

Seaborn, Stuart (California)

Seelenfreund, Emily (New York)

Sobie, Rebecca J. (New York)

Wolinsky, Sidney M. (California)

Wolinsky [inactive], Sidney (California)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Arffa, Allan J. (New York)

Bowe, Martin John (New York)

Hechtkopf, Helene Rachel (New York)

Holoshitz, Tamar (New York)

Kerwin, James Luke (New York)

Laufer, Gregory Frederick (New York)

Lipton, Ira J. (New York)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Hagler, Tamar (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

County Clerk Minutes

New York state supreme court

Sept. 24, 2021 Docket

Complaint

New York state supreme court

April 25, 2017 Complaint

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Public Accommodations/Contracting

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 25, 2017

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Six disability-focused non-profit organizations.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit NON-religious organization

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Pending

Defendants

Metropolitan Transit Authority ( New York City, New York), State

New York Transit Authority (New York City, New York), State

City of New York (New York City, New York), City

Defendant Type(s):

Transportation

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Access to public accommodations - governmental

Bathrooms

Disparate Impact

Reasonable Modifications

Transportation

Type of Facility:

Government-run