455 East 400 South, Suite 410
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Lauren Barros, Staff Attorney
SUMMARY OF THE CASE
In the spring of 1998, a member of the Disabled Rights Action Committee ("DRAC") experienced discrimination when she went to the brand new, 264 unit River Run condominium complex. This DRAC member was looking for housing where a person using a wheelchair could live independently, without needing a family member to pick her up and carry her over steps or through the doorways. DRAC regularly surveys housing, searching for accessible places for its members to live.
Unfortunately, this DRAC member's efforts were immediately stymied - she faced 5 steps into the sales office. In addition, the River Run sales agent told this DRAC member that numerous ground floor condominiums were available but that they all had several steps into the front door. There was nothing there for a person who uses a wheelchair to see.
After unsuccessful attempts to get the builder/owner to make River Run accessible, the Disability Law Center brought a suit on behalf of DRAC on October 7, 1999, against those that designed and constructed River Run. The suit brought claims under the State and Federal Fair Housing Acts. The Federal Fair Housing Act and its accessibility requirements were made in to law in 1988. The accessibility requirements have been binding since March 13, 1991.
SUMMARY OF SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS
Settlement Agreement I - On May 5, 1999, River Run builder/owner John E. Ord signed an agreement to fix the interiors of every unsold condominium and the exteriors of every sold or unsold condominium with steps at River Run. Ord specifically agreed to build ramps to 12 condominium units, build curb cuts, stripe accessible parking, provide an accessible dumpster for every inaccessible one, make interior modifications to 20 condominiums (widen all doorways, reduce all doorway thresholds, install lever handles on doors, lower thermostats, install accessible cook-tops in the kitchens, grab bars with backing in the bathrooms), modify plans for buildings that were under construction, and agree to put money into a retrofit fund for condominiums already sold.
Settlement Agreement II - On October 19, 1999, the parties signed a final agreement, specifying the amount and details of the retrofit fund, as well as the amount of damages and attorneys fees the defendants would pay to DRAC. The $52,000 fund will be available to River Run residents and owners for three years, at which point it will become available to individuals throughout the State of Utah for accessibility modifications. The defendants will additionally pay $2500 for DRAC's damages and $35,000 to the Disability Law Center for attorneys' fees.
This settlement sends a message to builders and architects throughout the Nation that they cannot ignore accessibility laws. People with disabilities will no longer put up with discriminatory, inaccessible housing.
ABOUT THE DISABILITY LAW CENTER
The Disability Law Center (DLC) was established as Utah's federally mandated Protection and Advocacy system twenty years ago. In the last decade, the DLC served more than 31,000 residents of Utah. Our clients represent all disabilities, all ages and races, and residents of the state's urban and extensive rural communities, including Native American reservations. A staff of 25 attorneys, paralegals and advocates in Salt Lake City, Logan, and Cedar City use direct legal representation, self-advocacy and training to ensure that people with disabilities are free from abuse and neglect, receive appropriate services, and are free from discrimination. Our mission is to enforce and strengthen the laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities in Utah through legal advocacy.