Mayor Scott Assembles Multi-Agency Task Force to Address Baltimore’s Past ADA Noncompliance
Monday Jun 14th, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, June 14, 2021) — Mayor Brandon M. Scott is responding to a new class action lawsuit filed in United States District Court for the District of Maryland on Thursday regarding Baltimore’s past noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
A class action suit was filed last week on behalf of people with mobility disabilities that live, visit, and work in Baltimore. The suit in Goodlaxson, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore asks the Court to grant injunctive relief, damages, and attorneys’ fees for violation of Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiffs claim that Baltimore’s pedestrian rights of way are inaccessible to people with mobility disabilities.
Mayor Scott was briefed by City Solicitor James Shea of the threatened action and directed that the City would not wait until it was sued to start implementing changes to meet the ADA standards.
“My administration has inherited a host of longstanding challenges that we are committed to addressing with a true equity approach. It’s long past time for leaders to commit to building a more accessible Baltimore that values our neighbors with disabilities and creates pathways for them to thrive,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott.
To deal with this current challenge, the Mayor assembled a multi-agency task force to address the City’s ADA compliance and directed it to use all necessary measures to triage current accessibility complaints. The Department of Transportation was tasked to develop a remediation plan and a timetable for completion. The task force is expected to provide an update on its work later this summer.
At least one year before this lawsuit was drafted, DOT had been working with the State Department of Highway Administration and its federal counterpart to address and evaluate its compliance with the ADA statute. As a result of that self-evaluation, DOT had already begun to take steps towards compiling a comprehensive plan to address outstanding ADA needs in the City. Additionally, Plaintiffs’ counsel was well aware that DOT had completed a self-assessment as required by law and Plaintiff’s counsel used the very same information supplied to it by the City to draft its Complaint.
Prior to the filing of the lawsuit, the City communicated its willingness to work with Plaintiffs’ counsel to address many of their clients’ complaints. The City emphasized the newly-elected Mayor’s commitment to accessibility and equality for all Baltimore citizens and visitors. However, the groups chose to file the lawsuit rather than continue communications with City officials.
Please refer all follow-up questions to Baltimore City Solicitor James Shea at [email protected].