NEW YORK, June 28 (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on
Thursday ruled that New York City did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Actby failing to make taxis wheelchair-accessible.
A three-judge panel at the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in New York reversed Manhattan Federal Court Judge George
Daniels' temporary injunction that had ordered the city to
create a plan to improve access to taxis for the disabled.
Daniels said that until he approved such a plan, any new taxi
must be wheelchair-accessible.
In his December injunction, Daniels ruled that New York's
Taxi and Limousine Commission had violated Title II, section A,
of the Americans with Disabilities Act because the authority had
an active regulatory role in maintaining and overseeing the taxi
The 2nd Circuit in March granted a request by the city to
temporarily freeze the controversial order.
Thursday's opinion, by Chief Judge Dennis Jacobs and judges
Amalya Kearse and Peter Hall, said the question was whether the
taxi authority "denied plaintiffs an opportunity to participate
in its services, programs or activities, or otherwise
discriminated against them on account of a disability."
In other words, because the taxi authority was not accused
of actively denying licenses to disabled drivers, it was beyond
the scope of the ADA to require it to provide
"Although only 231 medallions are conditioned on wheelchair
accessibility, none of the medallions issued by the TLC
prohibits any medallion owner from operating an accessible
taxi," the opinion, written by Jacobs, said.
Sid Wolinsky, co-director of Litigation of Disability
Rights Advocates, the lead plaintiff in the case, said in a
statement, "This is only round one of what is certain to be a
lengthy fight on many fronts over whether people with
disabilities can be excluded from the use of New York taxis.
Plaintiffs will vigorously pursue the claims filed under the
Rehabilitation Act and under New York City Human Rights Law." He
said the group has "several other lawsuits we could bring to
challenge this segregated system."
More broadly, the appeals court panel concluded that the
ADA, "as a whole, does not require the New York City taxi
industry to provide accessible taxis."
The opinion also noted that a new taxi plan, approved by New
York State, would yield over $1 billion in revenue for the city.
We have consistently said that the TLC's practices are in no
way discriminatory and are eager to move forward with our
program," TLC Commissioner David Yassky said in a statement.
The case is Christopher Noel v. New York City Taxi and
Limousine Commission, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit,
For the city: Michael Cardozo and Robin Binder, New York
City Law Department, Office of the Corporate Counsel.
For the plaintiffs: Sid Wolinsky of Disability Rights
(Reporting By Basil Katz)
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