SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

SUMMERS COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-84-31

 

Settlement Agreement | Department of Justice Press Releases

 

BACKGROUND

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department of Justice") against Summers County, West Virginia ("County"). The complaint was received by the Disability Rights Section (DRS) of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, under the authority of 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F. The complainant alleges that the programs, services, and activities offered in the Summers County, West Virginia Courthouse are not accessible to persons with mobility impairments.

The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of the County with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the

Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.

The Department completed an on site investigation of County services, programs, and activities at County facilities and identified multiple title II violations, including programs, services, and activities held at the Courthouse, Memorial Building, Summers County Health Department, and the 4-H Camp. None of these buildings was constructed after January 26, 1993 or altered after January 26, 1992. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.

The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Summers County, West Virginia. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of further investigation and possible litigation, the parties hereby agree as follows:

1 . The ADA applies to the County because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. §12131(l).

2. The County owns the facilities that are the subject of this Agreement, except for the polling places where it operates its elections.

3. Under title II of the ADA, discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability, in the services, programs, or activities of the County is prohibited. 42 U.S.C. § 12132.

4. Under title II of the ADA, each service, program, or activity that is provided by the County, when viewed in its entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. § 35.150(a).

5. The subject matter of this Agreement is the implementation of a plan to ensure that County services, programs, and activities that are offered in the Courthouse and other facilities where County programs are held are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

REMEDIAL ACTION

A. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES

1. In order to inform members of the public of the provisions of title II and their applicability to the County's programs, services, and activities, the County will publish the attached Notice (Attachment A), within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, in a newspaper of general circulation serving Summers County, West Virginia.

2. Additionally, the County will distribute the Notice to all agency heads and post copies in conspicuous locations, including at all entrances and exits and on public announcement or bulletin boards, in County buildings within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, and refresh the posted copies, as necessary, for the life of the Agreement. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.

3. In order to ensure that court proceedings held in the Courthouse are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with mobility impairments pending completion of the proposed elevator project, the County will, within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, adopt and implement the attached Policy (Attachment B) entitled, "Policy on Accessibility of Proceedings Held within the Summers County Courthouse."

4. Within 30 days of the effective date of the Agreement, the County will report to the Department the location of any accessible courtrooms or locations where court proceedings will be held in order to provide accessibility.

5. Copies of the attached Policy will be posted in conspicuous locations in the Courthouse within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement and distributed to all County employees who work in the Courthouse. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.

B. TDD AND 9-1-1 SERVICES

1 . The County will amend its written 9-1-1 procedures within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement to ensure that 9-1-1 call-takers are trained to recognize a "silent" open line as a potential TDD call and respond by TDD, and that TDD calls are answered as quickly as other calls received, and are monitored for timing and accuracy, if other calls are monitored. The County will continue to ensure that working TDD's are located at each call taker's station, that all call takers are trained in using a TDD to take 9-1-1 calls, that correct TDD call taking procedure is incorporated into call takers' performance evaluations, and that written personnel policies include disciplinary procedures for call takers who fail to perform TDD call taking consistent with the training and procedures.

2. The County will amend its written 9-1-1 procedures to ensure that all non-emergency TDD calls to the administrative line in the 9-1-1 center are returned by the appropriate County official on the same day as received. If the caller's concerns or questions cannot be handled promptly, the procedures will require a County employee to speak to the caller on the same day in order to establish a time frame for the call-back.

3. The County will publish a notice in the local telephone book that the 9-1-1 number accepts TDD calls. The notice will also make clear that the County's 9-1-1 non- emergency line accepts TDD calls and operates as the TDD number for all County offices. The notice will be published at the first available opportunity but not more than one year from the effective date of this Agreement.

C. POLLING PLACES

1 . The County recognizes that the majority of the facilities that it uses to hold County elections are not readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments. Most locations are in facilities that are subject to the obligation to remove barriers to accessibility under title II or title III of the ADA, however, and thus could be subject to an independent federal compliance review. This agreement does not limit such future enforcement action by any person or entity.

2. The County will continue to search for facilities that do conform to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design with respect to parking, exterior routes, entrances, and interior routes to the voting area.

3. The County will request the responsible officials of Jumping Branch School and Sandstone Fire Department to install one van accessible parking space, with signage. Standards §§ 4.1.2(5), 4.6. The request will specify that the remediations be completed within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

4. The County will request the City of Hinton to install handrails on the exterior ramps at the entrances to Hinton City Hall that comply with the requirements of the Standards. Standards §§ 4.1.2(l), 4.3, 4.26. The request will specify that the remediations be completed within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement

5. The County will request the City of Hinton to adjust the interior vestibule doors of the designated accessible ground floor entrance so that the force required to open the doors is no greater than 5 pounds. Standards § 4.13.1. The request will specify that the remediation be completed within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

6. The County will request that the Senior Citizen Center transport disabled voters to polling places, upon request, within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement.

7. The County agrees to provide the option of mail ballots or absentee ballots to persons with disabilities, in accordance with West Virginia law, provided that the ballots are accepted up to and including the day of the election.

8. Until such time as the County uses polling places that meet the Standards, it will provide a notice in local newspapers and on radio stations before elections that Jumping Branch School, Sandstone Fire Department, and Hinton City Hall provide only limited accessibility for persons with disabilities. The notice will alert people to the availability of accessible transportation, if the Senior Citizen Center has agreed to provide that service, and to the option of mail or absentee ballots.

D. SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT

1. Because the Sheriff s Department building is inaccessible, the Sheriff will conduct his administrative law enforcement responsibilities (e.g., taking complaints, interviewing witnesses) from the Tax Office on the first floor of the Courthouse, upon request, to accommodate persons with mobility impairments.

2. The County will develop procedures within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, subject to approval of the procedures by DRS, for handling persons with mobility impairments who have been arrested and who cannot enter the Department to take an intoxilyzer test or for temporary confinement.

E. STRUCTURAL ALTERATIONS

In order to ensure that the programs, activities, and services offered at various County facilities are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with mobility impairments, the County will take the following actions.

1. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Summers County Courthouse:

2. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Summers County Courthouse:

3. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the second floor public use areas of the Summers County Courthouse:

4. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Memorial Building:

5. Within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Memorial Building:

6. Within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Memorial Building:

7. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Memorial Building:

8. Within 6 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the Summers County Health Department:

9. Within 12 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the 4-H Camp:

10. Within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alterations to the 4-H Camp:

11. Within 36 months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will complete the following alteration to the 4-H Camp:

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

1. At 60 and 180 days after the effective date of this Agreement, and thereafter at yearly anniversaries of the effective date, the County will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the County has taken pursuant to this Agreement. Reports will include photographs, architectural plans, notices published in the newspapers, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations.

2. 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 Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement with the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification to this Agreement will not take effect and all terms and conditions of the Agreement remain enforceable.

3. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If it determines that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it will so notify the County in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues within 30 days of the date it provides notice to the County, it may institute a civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.

4. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.

5. In the event that the County fails to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department as a temporary modification of the relevant terms of this Agreement, all terms of this Agreement shall become immediately enforceable in an appropriate Federal court.

6. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be provided to any person by the County or the Department on request.

7. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

8. 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, shall 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.

9. This Agreement will remain in effect for five years from the effective date of this Agreement, or until full compliance with this Agreement by the County has been achieved. The signers of this document represent that they are able to bind their parties to this Agreement.

 

For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE,
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

By: __________________________

JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
RENEE M. WOHLENHAUS, Deputy Chief
SUSAN B. REILLY, Supervisory Attorney
LISA M. LEVINE, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738

Date ___________________________

For the County:

_______________________________

LONNIE R. MULLINS, Commissioner

_______________________________

J. CLYDE GRIMMETT, Commissioner

_______________________________

RICHARD L. MEADOR, Commissioner

Date ___________________________

 

 


Attachment A

 

NOTICE

UNDER THE

AMERICANS WITH

DISABILITIES ACT

In accordance with the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Summers County (County) will not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the County's services, programs, or activities.

The County does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its hiring or employment practices. The County will not ask a job applicant about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform specific job functions. Medical examinations or inquiries may be made, but only after a conditional offer of employment is made and only if required of all applicants for the position. Summers County will make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability upon request unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the County's business.

The County will provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified sign language interpreters, whenever necessary to ensure effective communication with members of the public who have hearing, sight, or speech impairments, unless to do so would result in a fundamental alteration of its programs or an undue administrative or financial burden. A person who requires an accommodation or an auxiliary aid or service to participate in a County program, service, or activity, should contact Mary Beth Merritt, the Summers County Clerk and ADA Program Coordinator at 304-466-7104 as far in advance as possible.

A person with a disability who requires an accommodation or an auxiliary aid or service such as an assistive listening device or a sign language interpreter, to participate in a court proceeding to be held in the County Courthouse should contact Mattie Jean Cooper, Circuit Court Clerk, at 304-466-7103 as far in advance as possible, but no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled time of the proceeding. If a party is represented by counsel, it is the responsibility of the attorney to make such request on behalf of his/her client and/or witness. The County will not place a surcharge on a particular individual with a disability or any group of individuals with disabilities to cover the cost of providing auxiliary aids/services or reasonable modifications of policy, such as retrieving items from locations that are open to the public but are not accessible to persons who use wheelchairs.


Attachment B

 

THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

POLICY ON ACCESSIBILITY OF

PROCEEDINGS HELD WITHIN THE

SUMMERS COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Summers County (County) has adopted the following procedures so that services, programs, or activities that would otherwise be provided in an inaccessible location in the Summers County Courthouse are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with mobility disabilities.

PROCEEDINGS TO BE RELOCATED UPON 48 HOURS NOTICE

If an individual with a mobility impairment chooses or is required to attend a proceeding (i.e., party, juror, attorney, witness, spectator) that is held in an inaccessible location in the Summers County Courthouse, the proceeding will be relocated to an accessible location after a request to relocate the court proceeding is made to the Circuit Court Clerk at least forty-eight (48) hours prior to the scheduled commencement of the proceeding. If a party to a proceeding is represented by counsel and either has a need to request relocation of the proceeding, or requires the presence of a person at the proceeding who requests relocation, then the proceeding shall be relocated upon such request.

ACCESS TO PROCEEDINGS WITH LESS THAN 48 HOURS NOTICE

If a participant (e.g., party, juror, attorney, witness) with a mobility impairment is required to attend a proceeding that is held in an inaccessible location in the Summers County Courthouse, and forty-eight (48) hours notice has not been provided to the Circuit Court Clerk when requesting relocation of a court proceeding to an accessible location, the proceeding will be postponed until such proceeding can be relocated to an accessible location.

DUTIES OF THE CIRCUIT COURT CLERK

Once a request to relocate a proceeding to an accessible location is received, the Circuit Court Clerk will:

1) contact the judge who will preside over the proceeding to inform him or her of the request to relocate the proceeding to an accessible courtroom;

2) contact the judge who was scheduled to preside over proceedings scheduled at the same time in the accessible courtroom so that he or she is informed of the relocation of both proceedings;

3) contact parties, jurors, and attorneys who must be present at the proceedings to inform them of the new location; and,

4) post written notice of the new location of the proceedings in conspicuous locations of the Courthouse where court dockets or schedules are routinely posted, especially outside the door of each courtroom.


Attachment C

 

28 CFR Part 36

Excerpts from the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines

4.17.3 through 4.17.5

and Figures 28 & 29


Attachment D

 

28 CFR Part 36

Excerpts from the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines

4.17.6 through 4.19.5

and Figures 31 & 32

 


Attachment E

 

28 CFR Part 36

Excerpts from the Americans with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines

4.17

Figure 30


Project Civic Access | ADA Home Page

February 7, 2001