Wednesday, November 29, 2006

E.D. Pa. Issues Bad Transit Access Decision

I'm on the road, so blogging will be light today, but I did want to point out the decision in Disabled in Action v. Southeastern Pa. Transportation Auth., 2006 WL 3392733 (E.D.Pa., Nov. 17, 2006), which came out a couple of weeks ago but is just on Westlaw now. DIA had sued SEPTA, the mass transit agency around Philadelphia, for violating the ADA by not making certain stations accessible, and for failing to designate certain stations as "key stations" under the ADA's transportation provisions. The district court ruled that the challenges to inaccessible stations were barred by the two-year statute of limitations (because, for example, the plaintiffs knew an elevator wouldn't be installed in one station more than three years before they brought suit). The district court also ruled -- in part because of Department of Transportation regulations that specifically incorporated a 1989 Rehab Act settlement involving Philadelphia transit -- that the plaintiffs had no right of action to enforce the DOT's regulation setting forth criteria for what's a "key station."

The private-right-of-action discussion in the district court's decision is convoluted but can probably be limited to Philadelphia. But the statute of limitations aspect of the decision seems totally wrong. The ADA doesn't give you a free pass if you build something that's not accessible and nobody sues within two years. What should be done if someone sues later is properly a remedial matter, not a question whether the lawsuit should proceed at all. Or am I missing something?


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