| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
April 30, 2004
| CRT |
TDD (202) 514-1888
MEMPHIS AREA APARTMENT COMPLEXES FOUND TO VIOLATE FEDERAL ACCESSABILITY LAW
First Time Federal Court Issues Opinion on Accessible Routes for Individuals with Disabilities
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Justice Department today announced that a federal district court in Tennessee ruled that the designers and builders of two Memphis-based apartment complexes violated the Fair Housing Act by failing to provide accessible sidewalks for persons with physical disabilities.
The decision issued by Judge Bernice Donald of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee resolves a contested question of federal disability law; whether a multi-family housing complex needs to provide only vehicular access or must build pedestrian access as well. This decision is the first time a court has addressed the issue.
The defendants, the Richard and Milton Grant Company; J. Richard Grant; Milton Grant; John Gillentine; Parker Estes & Associates; and Henry Hart Engineering, planned and built Wyndham Apartments and Camden Grove Apartments without accessible sidewalks from the apartment units to the street and on-site amenities. The defendants claimed that accessible walkways were not required under federal law because the complexes were designed and built for automobile access only.
This case was originally brought by the Memphis Center for Independent Living, a non-profit service provider. The Justice Department intervened in federal court
In addition to ruling that accessible sidewalks needed to be provided, the court also held that several features of the apartment units failed to meet the requirements of federal accessibility law.