Federal Court Refuses To Lift Injunction Barring Removal of NYC’s Alarm Box System:
B&S Partners Lead Counsel for Plaintiff Class

Adopting arguments submitted by B&S partners Robert B. Stulberg and Amy F. Shulman, U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet, in a 50-page decision issued August 15, 2011, denied the City of New York’s motion to vacate a permanent injunction barring removal of the City’s emergency alarm box system. The Judge ruled that the City had failed to devise an alternative to that system for deaf and hearing impaired persons needing to access emergency services. He held that the alternative proposed by the City for the deaf and hearing impaired — public pay phones with a tapping code — would not work and would leave the deaf and hearing impaired with no way to summon police fire and medical assistance from the street.

The Judge held that the proposed removal of the alarm box system would unlawfully discriminate against the deaf and hearing impaired, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the regulations implementing that law “…[P]ublic payphones, [Enhanced]-911 and the tapping protocol do not provide an accessible alternative for deaf and hearing impaired persons attempting to report an emergency from the street,” the Court held, “[T]he removal of street alarm boxes and their replacement with payphones, E-911, and the tapping protocol constitutes a deprivation of a benefit provided to non-hearing impaired persons.”

In news reports published by The New York Times, New York Daily News and New York Post, Robert B. Stulberg, lead counsel for the Civic Association of the Deaf of New York City, Inc. and the class certified in the case, was quoted as follows: “This decision represents a momentous, life-saving ruling, that protects the rights of the deaf and hearing impaired to access essential public services.”