Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And The County Of Newaygo, Michigan

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-38-25

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134 (the ADA), with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, (Department) against the County of Newaygo, Michigan (County). The complainant alleges that the County has violated title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, by failing to allow a service animal in a County building and by requiring certification of the service animal's status.

The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R.

Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the compliance of the County with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing title II regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ァ 12133 to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter.

The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Newaygo County. In the interest of securing compliance by voluntary means, the parties hereby agree as follows:

Background

  1. The ADA applies to the County because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. ァ 35.104.
  2. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of a public entity such as the County.
  3. Under the ADA, public entities must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures when necessary to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.

Remedial Action

  1. The County will comply with title II of the ADA and will permit service animals in County buildings and at County-sponsored gatherings.
  2. It is acknowledged and agreed that:
    1. persons with disabilities may bring their service animals to any programs, services, and activities of Newaygo County, and the service animals may be removed only if necessary for safe operation;
    2. although persons may be asked if an animal is a service animal and to describe the service the animal provides and the training that the animal has received, they may not be required to show identification or certification of the service animal's status or of their own disability; and
    3. the definition of a service animal includes guide dogs, signal dogs, and any other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.
  3. Within 20 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide a written statement of the foregoing policy to the Department of Justice for review and approval.
  4. Within 10 days of the Department of Justice's approval, the foregoing policy statement shall be distributed to all County Board members, be posted in public places in County buildings, and be made available to the public upon request.

Implementation and Enforcement of the Agreement

  1. This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person by the County or the Department upon request. The County shall provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
  2. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement, or any requirement thereof, has been violated, it may institute a civil action in Federal district court to enforce the terms of the Agreement following written notice to the County of the possible violation and a period of ten (10) days in which the County has the opportunity to cure the alleged violation.
  3. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein shall not be construed as a waiver of the Department of Justice's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  4. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  5. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions.
  6. This Agreement is limited to the facts set forth herein and does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the County's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title II of the ADA.
  7. This Agreement is not an admission of any violation of any law by Newaygo County nor shall it be construed as a finding of such.
  8. The signer of this document for the County represents that he or she is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement.

    For the County of Newaygo:

    Kurt Humphrey
    County Administrator

    ________________________________       Date:___________
    Chair, Newaygo County
    Board of Commissioners

    For the United States:

    Isabelle Katz Pinzler
    Acting Assistant Attorney General
    for Civil Rights

    ________________________________       Date:___________
    John L. Wodatch
    Allison Nichol
    Naomi Milton
    Disability Rights Section
    Civil Rights Division
    U.S. Department of Justice
    P.O. Box 66738
    Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
    (202) 514-9807

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Updated August 6, 2015

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