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Legal Cases
Federal Court of Appeals opinions

Lockett v. Catalina Channel Exp., Inc., 496 F.3d 1061 (9th Cir. 2007)
Ferry case. One-time denial of access of passenger with service animal to lounge after another allergic passenger complained was not an ADA violation. Ferry used judgment that animal posed a direct threat to the health and safety of the other passenger.

Melton v. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, 391 F.3d 669 (5th Cir. 2004)
Reasonable modification case. Rider requested pickup in the alley behind his house due to access issues in the front. Transit company refused. Court found that DOT regulations were silent on reasonable modifications and that the DOJ reasonable modification regulation did not apply to paratransit services. Court accepted the argument that complementary paratransit is the reasonable modification to a inaccessible fixed route system.

Tandy v. City of Wichita, 380 F.3d 1277 (10th Cir. 2004)
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center hosted a training on transportation and encouraged its attendees to test the accessibility of the Wichita transit fixed-route system. Among issues found were:

  • Malfunctioning lifts. History has shown malfunction ranged from 20-30% of a user’s rides.
  • Refusal to transport user of a power chair
  • Blind user was not offered designated seat. Regular failure to call out stops and lack of availability of Braille schedules and directories at transit center. Braille schedules that were available did not make sense.
  • TDD line did not work

Court found that these testing riders had standing to sue.

Keirnan v. Utah Transit Authority, 339 F.3d 1217 (10th 2003)
Appellate review of a request for a preliminary injunction. Bus passenger used wheelchair beyond common size (612 lbs occupied and longer than 48 inches including leg rests). After years of transporting her, transit authority terminated paratransit eligibility of all riders whose wheelchair exceeded common size. This affected 30 riders out of 6500. Court deferred to interpretive guidance of DOT regulation, 49 C.F.R. § 37, App. D (2002), in refusing to issue a preliminary injunction against termination of rider eligibility. However, the court noted the conflict between this regulation and the general non-discrimination requirement, 49 C.F.R. § 37.5, since plaintiff has shown that she was capable of using the service and that she should raise this issue at the district court level.

Brinn v. Tidewater Transp. Dist. Com'n, 242 F.3d 227 (4th 2001)
Issue was over failure to provide paratransit next-day service. Parties settled and the court had to decide on the award of attorneys’ fees.

Federal District Court opinions     enforcement-1

Equal Rights Center v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 573 F.Supp.2d 205 (D.D.C. 2008)
Settled lawsuit. Alleged deficiencies in system were: a shortage of vehicles, poorly trained drivers, unacceptably long delays in customer pick-up and transit times, an insufficient number of telephone operators to handle the reservation process, and a lack of proper customer complaint procedures.

Walter v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority, 434 F.Supp.2d 346 (E.D.Pa. 2006)
Plaintiffs sued transportation authority over its paratransit eligibility criteria. Transportation authority buses now all had lifts and plaintiffs were deemed no longer eligible for paratransit because fixed route bus system was accessible. However, rail system was still inaccessible and plaintiffs’ routes would ideally use the rail system (if it was accessible). Court found that one plaintiff was eligible due to inaccessible intracity rail route while the other was not because authority did not have to complement commuter rail with paratransit.

Disabled in Action of PA. v. National Passenger R.R. Corp., 418 F.Supp.2d 652 (E.D.Pa. 2005)
Passengers sued Amtrak to provide them additional seating accommodations at no cost for groups of wheelchair travelers that wished to travel together in one car. Court found that Amtrak is not mandated to make modifications beyond what is required under DOT regulations and that DOJ regulation requiring reasonable modifications did not apply.

Liberty Resources, Inc. v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transp. Authority, 155 F.Supp.2d 242 (E.D.Pa. 2001)
Transportation authority failed to provide next-day paratransit service. In a 13 month period, over 30,000 eligible patrons were denied rides. Further SEPTA never attempted to provide rides to 100% of its eligible callers. Its paratransit budget assumed that not all riders would be given rides and SEPTA never studied ways to meet their rider demands.

T. Richardson, J. Steele & The United States of America v. City of Steamboat Springs, #99-Z-1247
United States District Court, District of Colorado: On July 1, 1999, Timothy Richardson and Jonathan Steele ("Individual Plaintiffs") filed a Complaint against the City of Steamboat Springs, Colorado ("City"), alleging that the City had discriminated against them on the basis of disability in connection with the provision of transit service and certain other City services, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12149 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 794. By Order dated April 20, 2000, the United States intervened in Individual Plaintiffs’ action against the City to the extent that it alleged violations of transportation provisions of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The City signed a consent decree stipulating compliance with FTA’s ADA regulations and paying compensatory damages to the plaintiffs.

Letters of Finding According to Regulatory Section

FTA Letters of Finding website
This web site contains the regulatory sections of 49 CFR Part 37 with Letters of Findings received and answered in the applicable section. These documents are administratively determined and are not precedential in nature.
Letters of Finding are documents that are the result of investigation, analysis and determinations of complaints received by the FTA Office of Civil Rights. Generally, letters of finding, which are normally addressed to a specific individual or entity, set forth the agency’s determination regarding an issue involving a specific factual situation. Such letters may be helpful to others when dealing with the same issue involving similar facts. Letters of Finding are listed under the applicable section of the regulation. Letters containing multiple issues are listed in each section and may appear more than once.

Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Justice

DOJ Memo of Understanding with FTA
The Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, entered into this Memorandum of Understanding to formalize our on-going cooperation in the implementation and enforcement of the public transportation provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The Memorandum of Understanding became effective August 26, 2005.

Enforcement Publications


Transit Rider Complaint Form
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Office of Civil Rights is responsible for civil rights compliance and monitoring of public transportation, which includes ensuring that providers properly implement Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) ADA regulations, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
In the FTA complaint investigation process, we analyze the complainant's allegations for possible ADA deficiencies by the transit provider. If deficiencies are identified they are presented to the transit provider and assistance is offered to correct the inadequacies within a predetermined timeframe. FTA also may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for enforcement.