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What is the Access Living et al. v. Chicago Transit Authority class action Settlement Agreement?

Equip for Equality filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on February 8, 2000 against the CTA under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 to address the CTA’s failure to provide equal access to people with disabilities on its trains and buses. The plaintiffs were Access Living, the center for independent living for metropolitan Chicago, and nine individuals with disabilities: seven with mobility impairments, one who is blind, and one who is Deaf. Access Living served as co-counsel in the case, along with Lou Aurichio from Butler, Rubin, Saltarelli and Boyd, and attorney Kathleen Yannias.

On September 20, 2001, following a fairness hearing, U.S. District Court Judge James Holderman approved a far-reaching class-action settlement in the lawsuit. The purpose of the fairness hearing was to give any potential class members an opportunity to either object to or opt out of the settlement. Class Members are all people with mobility, vision, or hearing disabilities who currently use, have used, or have attempted to use CTA’s fixed route bus and rail system, as well as those individuals who have been deterred from such use.

Highlights of the settlement terms include:

  • Installation of audio-visual equipment on buses to announce bus stop information to riders who have visual impairments or are Deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Comprehensive rehab of elevators that have been in service for 10 or more years (completed March 31, 2003) and installation of automatic elevator activators, which prevent elevator breakdown due to extreme weather, on all other hydraulic elevators.
  • CTA must keep a centralized database of all ADA-related complaints.
  • Creation of a brochure for people with disabilities with all relevant information for safely and efficiently accessing the system, as well as the addition of disability-related information to CTA’s system map.
  • Monitoring of ADA-related performance by the CTA’s Performance Control Specialists (undercover riders), which includes the deployment of two full-time Performance Control Specialists in wheelchairs.
  • Changing the CTA’s “Corrective Action Guidelines” to add new procedural, performance and behavioral violations which may warrant accelerated discipline of its employees (i.e. “Failure to deploy the lift when requested,” “Touching a passenger, a passenger’s assistive device or assistance animal without the permission of the passenger,” “Insolence or disrespect to a customer, including those with a disability,” etc.)

For more information, read the judge’s decision denying CTA’s motion for summary judgment and the Settlement Agreement.

Last updated: June 29, 2020

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