The 119-page pinion, published this morning, states in the introduction:

This mountain of evidence and argument confirms that planning for, and responding to, emergencies and disasters is a Herculean task, and that, in many — perhaps most — respects, the City has done an outstanding job. But it also reveals that while the City’s emergency preparedness program adequately accommodates the needs of people with disabilities in some respects, it fails to do so in others. Most significantly, the City’s plans are inadequate to ensure that people with disabilities are able to evacuate before or during an emergency; they fail to provide sufficiently accessible shelters; and they do not sufficiently inform people with disabilities of the availability and location of accessible emergency services. Notably, there is no evidence that these failures are a result of intentional discrimination by the City against people with disabilities. But the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the NYCHRL seek to prevent not only intentional discrimination against people with disabilities, but also — indeed, primarily — discrimination that results from “benign neglect.” Alexander v. Choate, 469 U.S. 287, 301 (1985). Moreover, these laws require that a government entity do more than provide a program on equal terms to those with and without disabilities; they require “affirmative accommodations to ensure that facially neutral rules do not in practice discriminate against individuals with disabilities.” Henrietta D. v. Bloomberg, 331 F.3d 261, 275 (2d Cir. 2003). The evidence shows that the City has not done so in various ways.


Continue Reading Judge Furman Rules That New York City’s Emergency Planning Violates Disability Laws; Orders Parties to Confer on Remedy