IM this article to a friend!

March 31, 2004

Release: Lawsuit to remedy Parking policies prior to WWII memorial opening

From: Washington Lawyers' Committee - Mar 31, 2004

March 31, 2004

Elaine Gardner (202)319-1000 ext. 131
Melissa Weiss (202) 331-1002


Washington, D.C. Today, two organizations representing people with disabilities and two individuals with mobility impairments filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the District of Columbia, charging that its parking program discriminates against individuals with disabilities. The suit charges that many parking meters in the District are inaccessible to people with disabilities. Nonetheless, the vehicles of people with disabilities are ticketed at expired meters if they do not display a special District parking placard, even if those meters are inaccessible, and even if the cars do display a valid parking placard from another state. Moreover, many people with disabilities, especially visitors, find that the requisite annual application process for obtaining a District placard to be discriminatorily onerous and time consuming, as well as unnecessarily intrusive.

The Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington and United Spinal Association join the two individual plaintiffs in filing this action. The DRC is a local membership organization that advocates for the rights of people with disabilities. Formerly known as the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, the United Spinal Association is a nonprofit national veterans service and disability rights organization, with over 2,700 members in the United States, who have disabilities of the spinal cord. The Association participated in drafting parts of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHHA). The action brought today notes that on May 29, 2004, the National World War II Memorial ceremonies will bring thousands of World War II veterans with disabilities to the District, many of whom will be unable to operate the District's inaccessible parking meters or comply with its onerous placard application process.

"People with disabilities have no problem being asked to pay for parking like everyone else. Just don't make it impossible to pay and then give us tickets. " says Robert Herman, of the DRC's board. William Hannigan, spokesperson for the United Spinal Association, adds, "The United Spinal Association strives for the independence of all Americans with mobility disabilities, including myself. Ironically the District, where the laws that protect our independence have been created, has and continues to place barriers preventing persons with disabilities to move about freely and enjoy this city."

The individual plaintiffs, Russell Holt and John Folan, are residents of Maryland and Delaware respectively. They have been granted state disabled parking placards, but have not applied for the District's placard, as they object to the process and the intrusive questions. They travel frequently to the District, and run the risk of having their vehicles ticketed each time they park on-the-street in DC.

The suit alleges that the District's parking program violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The action seeks to require the District to bring its parking meters and parking program into compliance with the ADA and Section 504, as well as its own laws and regulations, so that persons with disabilities may have access to on-the-street parking in the same manner as all other persons. The lawsuit also seeks to require the District to alter its current application form and process for its parking placard program for persons with disabilities so that it complies with the United States Constitution and federal and District disability rights laws.

"It is disturbing that more than ten years after Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act, persons with disabilities who visit the Nation's Capital for business or personal needs or as tourists are still made to feel unwelcome due to the District's discriminatory parking policies," says Doane Kiechel of the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, one of plaintiffs' attorneys. Plaintiffs are also represented by Elaine Gardner of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Seth Galanter, Jennifer Richter Maurer, and Matthew Schruers of Morrison & Foerster. Morrison & Foerster, an international law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., has an awarding winning pro bono program and a commitment to matters of public interest and service to the local community.


Disability Rights Council v. Metro

11 DUPONT CIRCLE, SUITE 400 ● WASHINGTON, DC ● 20036 Voice: (202) 234-7550 ● Fax: (202) 234-7510 ● TTY: 234-7590 ●