United Spinal Association Secures Judgment Ordering Port Authority to Make PATH Train Station Accessible to Wheelchair Users

Sep 08, 2011, 12:31 ET from United Spinal Association

NEW YORK, Sept. 8, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- It was announced today that United Spinal Association, along with two other plaintiffs, have prevailed in a suit against the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey.  Judge Stanley R. Chesler ordered the Port Authority to make the Grove Street PATH Station "accessible to disabled persons who are wheelchair bound or who otherwise cannot traverse stairways or escalators."

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The order is the latest chapter in a six-year effort by United Spinal to have the Port Authority install elevators at Grove Street and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that access for wheelchair users be included when a new entrance to a rail station is constructed or altered.

After careful consideration, Judge Chesler determined that it was feasible to make the station accessible as required by the ADA, as United Spinal and the other plaintiffs asserted.

The 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center resulted in businesses moving across the Hudson River increasing the number of people working in Jersey City and traffic at the Grove Street PATH Station. In 2002, the Port Authority began construction of an additional station entrance to accommodate the surge. United Spinal contacted the Port Authority requesting that the bi-state agency comply with the law to no avail.

When those requests were ignored, United Spinal was compelled to pursue a legal remedy collectively with plaintiffs Heightened Independence Progress, Inc. (HIP) and Peter Gimbel, a wheelchair user.

Judge Chesler directed the Port Authority to submit a detailed plan, within twenty days, "outlining its plans to comply with this order as expeditiously as possible."

"When the new entrance was constructed, it improved access to the station, but only for able-bodied passengers.  We are gratified that the Court has hastened the day when the disabled finally will be able to use the Grove Street PATH station," stated Robert B. Stulberg of Broach & Stulberg, LLP, and the plaintiffs' attorney.

"This decision will open up transportation and employment opportunities in Jersey City's growing hub for people with motor, respiratory and stamina disabilities who need elevators to use this station," said James Weisman, SVP & General Counsel of United Spinal Association.

The Port Authority is under the control of the governors of New York and New Jersey.

"Although Governors Cuomo and Christie inherited this legal action upon taking office, we are confident that they will use their offices to expedite compliance with the Order," added Mr. Weisman.  

Broach & Stulberg, LLP is currently representing United Spinal in a lawsuit challenging the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission's decision to replace accessible public buses on fixed routes in Brooklyn and Queens with inaccessible, privately-owned group ride vehicles.

United Spinal's James Weisman also collaborated with Robert B. Stulberg in the lawsuit that resulted in NYC committing $217 million to install wheelchair curb ramps on every corner.

Plaintiffs were also represented by David Popiel, of the Community Health Law Project.

About United Spinal Association
United Spinal is a national 501(c) (3) nonprofit membership organization formed in 1946 by paralyzed veterans and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Americans with spinal cord injuries and disorders (SCI/D), including multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, ALS and post-polio. It played a significant role in writing the Americans with Disabilities Act, and made important contributions to the Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Air Carrier Access Act. Membership is free and is open to all individuals with SCI/D. United Spinal was instrumental in getting New York City to create sidewalk curb ramps and accessible public transportation that has been used as a model for many United States cities.

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Jim Weisman

SOURCE United Spinal Association