SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN 

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

LANCASTER COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

DJ 204-62-201

 


Press Release | Fact Sheet

BACKGROUND

SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

  1. The United States Department of Justice ("United States") initiated this matter from two complaints filed against Lancaster County ("County"), specifically, the Lancaster County Courthouse ("Courthouse") and Lancaster County Magistrates' Offices ("Magistrates' Offices") under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the United States' implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35.
  2. The combined complaints allege that the Courthouse and the Magistrates' Offices are not accessible to people with physical disabilities and that the court system failed to provide an assistive listening device for a person with a hearing disability during court proceedings.
  3. As part of its investigation, the United States surveyed the following facility, which – because construction or alterations commenced after January 26, 1992 – must comply with the ADA's new construction or alterations requirements:

    Altered portions of the Courthouse (50 North Duke Street, Lancaster, PA)
  4. The United States’ investigation of program access covered the County’s programs, services, and activities that operate in each of the Magistrate’s Offices and portions of the Courthouse.

    JURISDICTION

  1. The ADA applies to Lancaster County because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
  2. The County is responsible for the operations in the Courthouse and Magistrates' Offices.
  3. Under the ADA, the County is required to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, including jury members, witnesses, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others.
  4. The United States is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to determine the compliance of the County with title II of the ADA and the United States' title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the United States Attorney General ("Attorney General") is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the United States fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
  5. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Lancaster County.
  6. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
  7. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled "Implementation and Enforcement."

REMEDIAL ACTION

NOTIFICATION

  1. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adopt the attached Notice (Attachment A); distribute it to all agency heads; publish the Notice in a local newspaper of general circulation serving the County; post the Notice on its Internet Homepage; and post copies in conspicuous locations in its public buildings. It will refresh the posted copies, and update the contact information contained on the Notice, as necessary, for the life of this Agreement. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.
  2. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, and on yearly anniversaries of this Agreement until it expires, the County will implement and report to the United States its written procedures for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the County's accessible programs, services, and activities.
  3. Beginning six months from the effective date of this Agreement, when notifying people of hearings or other activities scheduled at any of the County's inaccessible Magistrates' Offices, the County will clearly state on the notification that the facility is not accessible to people using wheelchairs and will instruct the recipient on how to request an accessible site or other accommodation.
  4. ADA COORDINATOR

  5. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will appoint or hire one or more ADA Coordinator(s). The ADA Coordinator(s) will coordinate the County's effort to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under the ADA, including any investigation of complaints communicated to it alleging its noncompliance with title II or alleging any actions that would be prohibited under title II. The County will make available to all interested individuals the name(s), office address(es), and telephone number(s) of the ADA Coordinator(s).
  6. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

  7. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adopt the attached ADA Grievance Procedure (Attachment B), distribute it to all agency heads, and post copies of it in conspicuous locations in each of its public buildings. It will refresh the posted copies, and update the contact information contained on it, as necessary, for the life of the Agreement. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.
  8. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION PROVISIONS

  9. The Lancaster County Courthouse and Magistrates' Offices contain 33 courtrooms, each capable of seating between approximately 20 and 200 participants (including jurors, witnesses, judges, clerks, counsel, parties, and members of the public). In order to ensure effective communication with any participant with a hearing disability in the services, programs, or activities of the Lancaster County Courthouse and Magistrates' Offices, the County agrees to:
    1. Develop a policy about the provision of auxiliary aids and services;
    2. Purchase and make available a reasonable number of portable assistive listening systems for use at the Courthouse and each of the Magistrates' Offices;
    3. Have available at least two (2) receivers for the use of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing at the Courthouse and have at least two (2) receivers for use of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing for the Magistrates' Offices;
    4. Train appropriate court personnel in the set-up, use, and maintenance of the assistive listening system and its receivers; and
    5. Post a notice in the Court Clerk's office and in other conspicuous areas of the Courthouse lobby and each of the Magistrates' Offices notifying patrons of the availability of the listening system, and distribute the notice to all judges and appropriate staff of the Courthouse and Magistrates' Offices. The notice will include the following:
      1. Name, address, and telephone number of the person responsible for providing assistive listening devices,
      2. Procedures for requesting assistive listening devices, and
      3. Procedures regarding maintenance of the assistive listening system.
  10. The County agrees to complete the actions outlined above within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement. Within 3 months of completing the actions outlined above, the County will send written confirmation of completion to the United States. The confirmation will include a description of the assistive listening equipment, a copy of the notice, and a list of the individuals trained in the use and maintenance of the equipment.
  11. NEW CONSTRUCTION, ALTERATIONS, AND PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES

  12. The elements or features of the County's facilities that do not comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design ("Standards"), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, App. A, including those listed in Attachments C and D, prevent persons with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying the County's services, programs, or activities and constitute discrimination on the basis of disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12132 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.149 and 35.150.
  13. The County will comply with the cited provisions of the Standards when taking the actions required by this Agreement.
  14. Altered Facilities: In order to ensure that the spaces and elements in County facilities for which alterations commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment C.
  15. Program Access in Existing Facilities: In order to ensure that each of the County's programs, services, and activities operating at a facility that is the subject of this Agreement, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment D.
  16. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  17. Within 60 days of the effective date of this agreement, the County will compensate the Complainant in this matter by sending a certified check in the amount of $1,000.00 to the Complainant at the address supplied by the United States. The County will provide the United States with a copy of the check.
  18. Beginning 12 months from the effective date of this Agreement, if a person with a disability is required to travel to a District Justice Office because the local Magistrates' Office is not accessible, the County will offer to reimburse the person with a disability for reasonable additional costs incurred due to the extended travel.
  19. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, the County will submit written reports to the United States summarizing the actions the County has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include detailed photographs showing measurements, architectural plans, work orders, notices published in the newspaper, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations or equipment.
  20. Throughout the life of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), the County will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, and will take whatever actions are necessary (such as routine testing of accessibility equipment and routine accessibility audits of its programs and facilities) to do so. This provision does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs. 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

  1. If at any time the County desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the United States in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the United States to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the United States, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
  2. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the United States believes that the County has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States for a modification of the relevant terms, the United States will so notify the County in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the United States is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to the County, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce title II.
  3. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the County to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the United States for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
  4. Failure by the United States to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the United States' right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  5. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the County or the United States on request.
  6. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the County's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
  7. This Agreement will remain in effect for three years or until the parties agree that all actions required by the Agreement have been completed, whichever is later.
  8. The person signing for the County represents that he or she is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement. The Department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement, which will remain in effect until the Department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed.

 

For the County of Lancaster:

By: ____________________________

DENNIS P. STUCKEY, Chairman
Lancaster County Commissioners

By: ____________________________

SCOTT MARTIN, Vice Chairman
Lancaster County Commissioners

By: ____________________________

CRAIG LEHMAN
County Commissioner
Office of the County Commissioners
150 North Queen Street, Ste. 715
Lancaster, PA 17603

Date: ___________________________

For the United States:

THOMAS E. PEREZ
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division

JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE M. WORDEN, Deputy Chief
DOV LUTZKER, Special Counsel

By: _______________________________
NAOMI MILTON, Supervisory Attorney

By: _______________________________
LYN SOWDON, Investigator
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 616-2940
(202) 514-7821 (fax)

Date:                 June 9, 2010                

 

 


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June 14, 2010