Thursday, May 26, 2011
By Sheila Anne Feeney
On Tuesday, a judge nixed the City's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit to invalidate its selection of the Nissan NV200 – which is not wheelchair accessible -- by a leading civil rights group. The group, Disability Rights Advocates, can now proceed in its legal effort to stop the city from ordering a custom-created vehicle that cannot accommodate people in wheelchairs.
The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge George Daniels in Manhattan came a day after taxi medallion owners began receiving letters from the Department of Justice, indicating that a federal investigation was underway as to whether the city is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney, which deals with DOJ complaints locally, said it is office policy not to discuss, or even confirm, investigations, but Gabriel Taussig, chief of New York City's Administrative Law Division, acknowledged the probe while expressing confidence that the feds would
The federal investigation was triggered by a March 29 complaint sent by Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner, D., Manhattan, to the U.S. Department of Justice. He fired off another blistering missive to the U.S. Attorney this week, alleging, among other things:
Pankratz countered that even though the ADA
Advocates have said the ADA exemption for taxicabs is intended to apply only to cities where everyone uses dispatch services for cabs.
A TLC spokesman previously told amNY that a Nissan NV200 version that is wheelchair accessible would add $14,000 to the $29,000 vehicle. But Pinover said yesterday that the city has enough leverage, given the size of its order, to have the cars modified for as little as an additional $3,000.
While 1.8% of today's fleet is wheelchair accessible (medallions for accessible cars cost less) the owners of conventional vehicles can volitionally decide to
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