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Press Release

United Spinal Association Sues New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission for Contracting with and Licensing 'Group Ride' Van Services that Discriminate Against People in Wheelchairs

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A lawsuit filed today in federal court for the Eastern District of New York alleges that the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) discriminates against people who use wheelchairs by contracting with and licensing "group ride" van services that provide public transportation only for able bodied passengers.

The suit is brought by United Spinal Association, whose members live with physical disabilities due to spinal cord injuries and disorders, and by two wheelchair bound individuals who claim the TLC is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that mandates public transportation provide services for people with mobility impairing-disabilities, including persons who use wheelchairs.

Recent elimination of bus routes by the MTA prompted the TLC, an agency of the City of New York, to contract with and license private van companies to operate "group ride" services for the public along the former bus routes. The Plaintiffs seek an order compelling the TLC to comply with their obligations under the ADA by requiring that the public transportation services provided by the "group ride" program be accessible to and useable by people with disabilities.

"The TLC's failure to require that these 'group ride' vans  provide transportation for wheelchair users is symptomatic of a larger problem that continues to be ignored by New York City agencies at the expense of the city's tax-payers; the increase in on-going, cost prohibitive paratransit services in lieu of providing basic transportation services that meet ADA requirements," said Paul Tobin, President and CEO of United Spinal Association.

"This ill-conceived program literally passes by the disabled," said Plaintiffs' attorney Robert Stulberg of Broach & Stulberg, LLP.  "This is the latest slap in the face of New Yorkers who use wheelchairs and depend on public transportation. As the population ages, loss of bus routes, restricted Access-A-Ride eligibility and lack of access to subways for people with mobility impairments, will continue to impact more and more New Yorkers," he added.

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

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