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45 Years of Impact Spotlight

Fighting Against Discrimination in Provision of Government Services: Other

DRP has also worked to enforce Title II’s and Section 504’s protections by fighting discrimination in the provision of other government services, such as parking and in prisons and public schools.

In 2016, DRP filed Brown v. Borough of Hanover, on behalf of a plaintiff, who has bilateral amputations that substantially limited his ability to walk, against borough to designate a parking space in front of his home for individuals with disabilities. The case settled, and defendant provided a reserved parking space on the street in front of plaintiff’s home, marked by a permanent sign, and agreed not to remove the space unless plaintiff vacates the home

In 2017, DRP filed McLaughlin, et al. v. Borough of Conway, Pennsylvania, on behalf of five residents of Conway Borough who have physical disabilities. The lawsuit alleged that Conway Borough violated the ADA by revoking the designated, reserved accessible parking spaces it had previously authorized in front of the plaintiffs’ homes. DRP successfully resolved the lawsuit, ensuring equal access to on-street residential parking for plaintiffs and other Conway residents with disabilities. Under the consent decree negotiated by DRP, the Borough is required to maintain the plaintiffs’ accessible parking spaces for as long as they need them. In addition, the Borough is required to evaluate any new requests for reserved residential parking spaces for people with disabilities and to grant them when they are necessary and not a fundamental alteration of the Borough’s on-street residential parking program.

In Bethlehem Area School Dist. v. D.Z., this lawsuit was initiated by the School District under the IDEA against our client, a parent of a student with disabilities, to recover its attorneys’ fees related to proceedings allegedly filed by the parent for “improper purposes.” Our client filed counterclaims for, among other things, retaliation in violation of Section 504 of the RA. The jury returned a verdict in favor of our client on the retaliation claim, awarding her $10,000 in compensatory damages, but the judge ruled that our client was liable to the District for its attorneys’ fees related to a single due process proceeding in 2007. As a result of the settlement, the school district paid our client $10,000 to satisfy the judgment, lifted the lien imposed on her property, and paid part of our attorneys’ fees for this case. The settlement imposed no liability on our client to pay any of the school district’s attorneys’ fees and costs.

In Purcell v. Pennsylvania Dep’t of Corrections, DRP was appointed by the court to represent a state inmate with Tourette’s syndrome and physical disabilities who alleged the prison violated Title II of the ADA by failing to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures. Specifically, the client alleged that the prison did not allow him to return to his cell when necessary to suppress tics caused by his Tourette’s syndrome and was not allowed to sit during inmate counts. DRP also alleged that the Department violated Title II of the ADA by failing to designate an ADA coordinator to ensure compliance with the ADA. The court denied the Department’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the Department is required to appoint an ADA coordinator for prisoner-related ADA issues. After this court ruling, the Department agreed to settle the case by appointing an ADA coordinator, modifying its handbook concerning grievance procedures, and paying damages to our client.