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June 29th, 2012

Federal Appeals Court Blocks Lawsuit Seeking to Make All NYC Cabs Wheelchair Accessible

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has appropriately overturned a lower court that had ruled in favor of disability-access radicals who sought to force all taxis in New York City to become wheelchair accessible.

The decision, handed down yesterday, makes clear that Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act “expressly exempts taxi providers from purchasing or leasing ‘accessible automobiles.’ 49 C.F.R. § 37.29(b).” 

But that didn’t stop the incendiary Gothamist from claiming the appeals court somehow “screwed” the wheelchair bound plaintiffs.

Of course, the court didn’t “screw” anyone.  It was Congress that plainly exempted taxicabs from the ADA for good — and what should be obvious — reasons.  Barely profitable private taxi companies can’t reasonably be forced to spend many millions of dollars retrofitting sedans or purchasing entirely new fleets that also must meet ever-tightening environmental and mileage standards without also being forced to raise fares exponentially or go out of business altogether.  Then we’d all be left with equal access to no taxi service at all.

The plaintiffs in this case, looking to advance an aggressively divisive disability-access agenda, tried to roll around that Title III exemption by basing their suit on claims under Title II, Sections (A) and (B) that deal with public licensing entities, not the private companies such entities regulate.  And though the activist trial judge was willing to aid and abet their efforts, adults at the appeals court thankfully were not.  Three cheers for the rule of law!

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