Plaintiffs alleging disability discrimination sued individuals and neighborhood associations that perform the work necessary to run the Department of Transportation’s Open Streets Program; Vaccaro Law represents the defendants in federal district court for the Eastern District
Advocates and lawyers blasted a federal lawsuit aiming to end New York City’s open streets program by accusing the three-year-old initiative that reclaimed space from cars of violating the rights of people with disabilities.
The case filed in Brooklyn federal court Monday is on behalf of 12 people with disabilities who live on or near an open street and who say they rely on cars to get around. The plaintiffs allege the restrictions on traffic violate their federal rights to the public street under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, along with state and city human rights law.
The 47-page filing is a mix of legal arguments and bizarre assertions — it opens off with a quote from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” and later accuses street safety advocates of being Nazi “brown shirts,” and compares the very name of the program (“open streets”) to the propaganda language “newspeak” from Orwell’s other novel, “1984.”
The legal challenge is unlikely to succeed because it relies on anecdotes rather than proving systemic issues with the program, one attorney said, and the complaints ignore the endless ways in which cars have long blocked access all over the city — including access to the disabled.
“The plaintiffs in this suit can now cross the [open] street without getting run over by a car and without having to go to a corner to do so,” said Steve Vaccaro of Vaccaro Law. “Whenever there’s a street closure they’re similarly burdened by allowing free parking in front of their residences at the curbside that limit their access to reach taxicabs or ADA transit providers.”