Parking meters to be upgraded

St. Paul will upgrade its parking meters and pay $45,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging the city violated the Americans […]

lowertown parking

St. Paul will upgrade its parking meters and pay $45,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging the city violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Jerald Boitnott filed a lawsuit in March alleging that some of the city’s parking meters violated ADA standards, according to a settlement agreement.

“The city agreed to settle this case because it recognized that some of the parking pay stations installed after 2012 do not comply with ADA accessibility requirements,” City Attorney Lyndsey Olson said in a statement. “The city is committed to ensuring compliance with the ADA, and that access is available to all.”

In conjunction with the $45,000 settlement, which will cover attorney’s fees, parking meter provider and third-party defendant Cale America Inc. has agreed to modify the city’s pay stations to meet ADA standards, the statement said. Upgrades must be completed by April 21, 2021, according to the settlement agreement.

Mayor Melvin Carter included $350,000 in the 2020 budget in anticipation of a settlement that included parking meter upgrades, though actual replacement costs are expected to be lower. The budget is to be approved by year’s end.

The ADA generally requires a 48-inch reach range, based on what’s accessible for someone using a wheelchair, said David Fenley, ADA director for the Minnesota Council on Disability. But because the law has no proactive enforcement mechanism, he said, people with disabilities who encounter barriers have limited options: They can complain to the state Department of Human Rights or the U.S. Department of Justice, or they can sue.

Boitnott is known for filing accessibility claims. In the past two years, he has filed two dozen lawsuits alleging ADA noncompliance. Defendants range from neighborhood restaurants and auto body shops to fast-food chains, court records show.

Boitnott also sued the city of Minneapolis over the accessibility of its parking meters, and in October the City Council approved a $60,000 settlement — half of which Cale America Inc. paid. The city agreed to replace its parking pay stations with ADA-compliant ones by May 31, 2023, and is in the process of issuing a request for proposals, according to spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie.

Boitnott could not be reached for comment, and his attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. According to an October 2018 civil complaint against a St. Paul restaurant, Boitnott has been diagnosed with physical and cognitive disabilities, including a traumatic brain injury and a spinal cord injury.

“As a person with a disability, Boitnott has a personal interest in having full and equal access to places of public accommodation and to the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or other things offered therein,” the complaint stated.

(Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune)

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