This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, with the United States Department of Justice (the Department) by the Wisconsin Coalition for Advocacy (WCA) on behalf of the complainant who has paraplegia and uses a manual wheelchair.
The complaint was filed against the Limo Economy Cab, a company that provides transportation services to the public in and around Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
According to the complainant, he called Limo Economy Cab early on the morning of February 8, 2004, to arrange for transportation to a nearby motel for him and a friend, both of whom had attended a concert in Eau Claire the previous evening. The complainant further alleged that when the cab arrived to pick up the would-be passengers, the cab driver simply drove away without any explanation or discussion. The complainant states that he then called the company’s dispatcher and asked why the cab driver had refused to pick up the two passengers. After the dispatcher learned that the complainant used a wheelchair, the dispatcher told the complainant that the company’s policy did not permit its cab drivers to transport wheelchairs. The complainant estimated that he and his friend were stranded on the street in the bitter cold for approximately 20-25 minutes without any way to get to their motel until a passerby offered them a ride.
On February 26, 2004, WCA contacted the owner of the Limo Economy Cab company on behalf of the complainant, advised the company that its actions were in violation of title III of the ADA, and requested that the company take certain steps to remedy the situation.
On March 1, 2004, the owner sent a letter to WCA to explain its policy, namely that it was willing to transport people who use wheelchairs, but that it was unable to transport the wheelchairs. The letter further explained the reasons for its policy. First, in 1994, its insurance company stated that it would no longer cover the Limo Economy Cab company for any damage incurred during the course of transporting a wheelchair. Second, there is not enough room in the trunk of its vehicles because the trunk is generally full with delivery orders and various equipment like spare tires and snow shovels. Third, the insurance company told the Limo Economy Cab company that it would have to transport all wheelchairs with a carrier that is attached to the vehicle and the Limo Economy Cab vehicles are not equipped with such carriers. Fourth, the Limo Economy Cab company could not transport wheelchairs within the passenger seating area because of safety concerns.
WCA subsequently referred the complaint to the Department because it said that Limo Economy Cab did not respond to a subsequent letter dated March 30, 2004. Limo Economy Cab states that it never received that letter.
The Attorney General is authorized to investigate complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(A)(i). In addition, the Attorney General may commence a civil action to enforce title III in any situation where there is reasonable cause to believe a pattern or practice of discrimination exists or a matter of general public importance is raised. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B).
The Department initiated an investigation of this matter in August, 2004.
The owner of Limo Economy Cab advised the Department that it had amended its policy as of September 7, 2004, and that the amended policy required, among other things, that all of its drivers transport persons using wheelchairs as well as their wheelchairs. The owner also indicated that all of the drivers under contract with the company were advised of the policy change.
10. The Department and the Limo Economy Cab company subsequently engaged in negotiations to address the insufficiencies of the company’s amended policy and attempted to resolve this dispute expeditiously and without resort to costly and protracted litigation. As the result of these negotiations, the Department and the Limo Economy Cab company have agreed to the terms set forth below:
TERMS OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
The parties to this Settlement Agreement are the United States of America (“United States”) and Limo Economy Cab of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Limo Economy Cab is a private entity primarily engaged in the business of providing taxi services to members of the general public on a regular and continuing basis and its operations affect commerce. As such, it provides specified public transportation services within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12181(10), 42 U.S.C. §12184(a), and 49 C.F.R. pt. 37.
Limo Economy Cab will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of its taxi services, within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12184(a) and 49 C.F.R. § 37.29(c) by refusing to provide service to individuals with disabilities who can use taxi vehicles, by refusing to stow and/or to assist with the stowing of mobility devices, by charging higher fares or fees for carrying individuals with disabilities and their equipment than it charges to other persons, or by any other discriminatory actions based on disability.
Limo Economy Cab will not impose eligibility criteria that screen out or tend to screen out an individual with a disability or any class of individuals with disabilities, including individuals who use wheelchairs, from fully enjoying the public transportation services it provides, unless it can show that such criteria are necessary for the provision of the services being offered within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12184(b)(1); 49 C.F.R. §37.5(f); and 28 C.F.R. §36.301(a).
Limo Economy Cab will make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, and procedures when such modifications are necessary to afford its goods and services to individuals with disabilities, unless it can demonstrate that the making of such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods and services it offers or would result in an undue burden within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12184(b)(1).
Limo Economy Cab will not refuse to serve and transport an individual with a disability because its insurance company conditions coverage or rates on the absence of individuals with disabilities or requirements contrary to 49 C.F.R. Pt. 37, including 49 C.F.R.§ 37.5(g).
Within 60 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement, Limo Economy Cab will provide all of its lessees and dispatchers with a copy the Limo Economy Cab Policy Regarding Wheelchairs, appended as Attachment 1, and will conduct a training program for all drivers and dispatchers regarding the attached policy.
Within 75 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement, Limo Economy Cab will ask all of its lessees and dispatchers to sign a declaration, appended as Attachment 2, indicating that they have read and understand the policy, and that they understand that their failure to provide non-discriminatory service to persons with disabilities will be cause for their termination.
Limo Economy Cab will provide all future lessees and dispatchers with a copy of the Limo Economy Cab Policy Regarding Wheelchairs within 30 days of their entry date and will comply with the terms of paragraphs 17 and 18 with regard to those persons.
Limo Economy Cab will maintain on file a copy of all such declarations referenced in paragraph 18. In addition, within 90 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement, Limo Economy Cab will provide the Disability Rights Section with copies of the declarations obtained to date.
Within 90 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement and every six months thereafter, Limo Economy Cab will provide a report to the Disability Rights Section indicating the number of times that a driver has declined to load a passenger’s wheelchair in a cab because he/she was physically unable to do so or for any other reason.
Within 45 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement, Limo Economy Cab will send a letter of apology to the complainant, Jamie Friederich, and pay him monetary damages by sending him a certified check in the amount of $500.00 (Five Hundred) and will also send a copy of the check and the accompanying transmittal letter to the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice.
Within 45 days from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement, Limo Economy Cab will send a letter of apology to the complainant’s friend, Luke Heiar, and pay him monetary damages by sending him a certified check in the amount of $500.00 (Five Hundred) because he too was denied service by virtue of his association with the complainant, a person with a disability within the meaning of the ADA. It also will send a copy of the check and the accompanying transmittal letter to the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice.
In consideration of the promises made in paragraphs 22 and 23 of this Settlement Agreement, the Department agrees that within 30 days of its receipt of the Settlement Agreement signed by an authorized representative of Limo Economy Cab, it will obtain Mr. Friederich’s and Mr. Heiar’s signatures on the Waiver and Release of Claim forms attached hereto as Attachments 3 and 4. The Department will mail the original copies of the signed Waiver and Release of Claim forms to Limo Economy Cab within fifteen days of the Department's receipt of same.
In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Settlement Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Settlement Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled “Enforcement.”
The Department may review compliance with this Settlement Agreement at any time, including by using unannounced testing, and may enforce this Settlement Agreement if the Department believes that it or any requirement thereof has been violated. If the Department believes that this Settlement Agreement or any portion of it has been violated, it will raise its concern(s) in good faith. The Department will give Limo Economy Cab thirty days from the date it notifies Limo Economy Cab of any breach of this Settlement Agreement to cure that breach, prior to instituting any court action.
Failure by the Department to enforce any provision or deadline of this Settlement Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department’s right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Settlement Agreement.
The effective date of this Settlement Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
This Settlement Agreement shall be binding on Limo Economy Cab, its agents, and employees. In the event that Limo Economy Cab seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in any facility covered by this agreement, and the successor or assign intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale Limo Economy Cab shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this agreement for the remaining term of this agreement.
This Settlement Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties relating to Department of Justice DJ # 202-86-27 and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents or either party, that is not contained in this written Settlement Agreement, including its attachments, shall be enforceable.
This Settlement Agreement does not effect Limo Economy Cab’s continuing responsibility to comply with other applicable provisions of the ADA and 49 C.F.R. pt. 37.
This Settlement Agreement is limited to the facts set forth above and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law.
This Settlement Agreement will remain in effect for three years from the effective date of this Settlement Agreement.
The person signing this document for Limo Economy Cab represents that he is authorized to bind Limo Economy Cab to this Settlement Agreement.
|FOR THE RESPONDENT: LIMO ECONOMY CAB||FOR UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:|
Thomas P. Streets
Limo Economy Cab
|WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
John L. Wodatch, Chief
L. Irene Bowen, Deputy Chief
Sheila K. Delaney, Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
LIMO ECONOMY CAB POLICY REGARDING PASSENGERS WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS
Limo Economy Cab drivers must assist passengers using wheelchairs as follows:
I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.
WAIVER AND RELEASE OF CLAIMS
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December 25, 2005