NEW ORLEANS — A settlement agreement
approved by a federal court stipulates the city of New Orleans and
the Regional Transit Authority will bring more than 2,000 bus stops
into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
agreement was struck in response to a lawsuit
filed by Francis Falls, Mitchell Miraglia and Thad Tatum last March
alleging that city bus stops do not accommodate the needs of people
with disabilities. Under the settlement agreement, approved by a
three-judge panel of the Eastern District Court of Louisiana, the
defendants agreed to repair and/or construct bus stops in the city of
Kenner and New Orleans Parish, in accordance with ADA standards,
while at the same time denying plaintiffs’ allegations and
Court documents said all parties agreed to the
compromise to avoid the expense and inconvenience of further
“When you look at the settlement, you’ll see that
they’re basically committing to development of a plan going forward
on how the city is going to prioritize these bus stops,” David
Whitaker, a partner who defends ADA litigation at Kean Miller, told
the Louisiana Record. “Although the pleadings in the case
allege that more than 90 percent of the bus stops are not in
compliance with ADA requirements, there is undoubtedly a wide range
of potential compliance issues involved — in some locations
relatively minor, in other locations more significant, so the
percentage by itself does not provide a lot of information.”
of Whitaker’s clients are private-sector businesses that are
obligated to comply with the public-accommodation requirements found
in Title III of the ADA, while the RTA case deals with a government
entity subject to Title II of the Act.
Still, good business
practices should prevail for both.
“A business is well advised to give
some thought to (ADA compliance) ahead of time,” Whitaker said.
“It’s easier to deal with the issues proactively and on your time
table rather than having to address it within the context of a
The agreement stipulates that New Orleans and the RTA
will work with ADA personnel to oversee and implement a compliance
“The retention of said experts will
be funded in accordance with the transit agreement between the city
and the RTA,” the settlement stated, which places a deadline of
Nov. 30, 2021 for completion of the evaluation process.
“reasonable accommodation prioritization” clause, the settlement
agreement allows for the three defendants to each submit a list
of the 10 bus stops they would like to see placed at the top of the
modification list, as long as their lists do not substantially alter
the compliance timeline. Improvements on those 30 bus stops are to be
made by Jan. 1, 2019.
A transition plan must be submitted to the
court for approval by Nov. 30, 2022 and all bus stops must be in
compliance by Nov. 30, 2031. Actual cost of improvements to the bus
stops has yet to be determined.
With respect to how quickly the
compliance issues under the RTA settlement agreement will be
corrected, Whitaker said, “I guess it remains to be seen how all of
this is going to play out,” noting that there is a price tag
associated with making these changes.