- This matter was initiated by a complaint, received May 10, 1994, filed with the United States Department of Justice (the Department), against the Moore County Board of Commissioners, North Carolina, (the Board). The complaint was investigated by the Department under the authority granted by section 308 (b) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131-12134. The complaint alleges that, public meetings of the Board are held on the top floor of the County Courthouse Building in Carthage, a location accessible only by stairs. The complaint alleges the Board fails to make its meetings readily accessible to individuals with disabilities in violation of the ADA.
- The Board denies that it acted unlawfully with respect to the complaint. Since this complaint was filed, but prior to notification by the Department, the Board has attempted to provide access to the public meetings by purchasing a wheelchair lift. In an attempt to provide accessibility to this historical building, the County purchased an electric (battery operated) tractor type wheelchair lift called "Stair-Trac." The Stair-Trac wheelchair lift is designed to transport a manual wheelchair up or down stairs. A trained operator assists an individual in a wheelchair by attaching the wheelchair to the Stair-Trac and "driving" the lift up or down the stairs as needed. The Department has notified the Board that the Stair Trac does not conform to the ADA Standards because it does not allow independent access and operation. Nor does the Stair-Trac work with "scooter" type wheelchairs or for individuals with mobility impairments who do not use wheelchairs. In response to the Department's investigation, the Board has petitioned the Division of Archives for approval to have an elevator installed to provide access to the top floor.
- The parties have agreed to settle this matter without resolving the factual and legal dispute regarding the lawfulness of the Board's actions. 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 and to determine if the Board is in compliance with title II of the ADA and the Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.
- The parties to this Settlement Agreement (Agreement) are the United States of America and the Moore County Board of Commissioners, North Carolina.
- This Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability and/or fault on the part of the Board of Commissioners. The parties enter into this Agreement in order to avoid litigation and hereby agree as follows:
Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 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 as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing a civil suit in this matter.
- Title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. 42 U.S.C. ï½§ 12131 ; 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.101.
- The ADA applies to the Board of Commissioners because it is a public entity as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 28 C.F.R. ï½§ 35.104.
- The Board agrees to take the following actions within 30 days of the date of this Agreement:
- The Board shall develop a written policy statement indicating procedures available for persons with disabilities to a obtain reasonable modifications to County policies, practices, and procedures.
- The Board shall adopt a procedure providing for relocation of all public meetings to an accessible location upon reasonable notification (not more than one week notice). The policy shall also provide that the Board of Commissioners will make reasonable efforts to relocate meetings when less than one week's notice is given.
- The Board shall adopt a grievance procedure providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints, including the name, telephone number, and office address of the ADA Coordinator.
- The Board will continue its plan to install an elevator in the building where it regularly holds its meetings.
- The policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this agreement, as well as the name and telephone number of the ADA Coordinator, will be distributed to all employees of the board.
- The policies and procedures adopted pursuant to this Agreement, and the name and telephone number of the ADA Coordinator, will be publicized by posting them in a prominent location of the Board's public areas.
- In consideration of the Moore County Board of Commissioners performance of its obligations under this agreement, the Department agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation of complaint number 204-54M-28 and to refrain from filing a civil suit arising from its investigation of complaint number 204-54M-28.
- 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 civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court.
- This Agreement is a public document. A copy of this Agreement or any information contained herein may be made available to any person. The Department may provide a copy of this Agreement to any person upon request.
- This Agreement shall become effective as of the date of the last signature below.
- 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 shall be enforceable. This Agreement is limited to the facts as set forth in paragraphs 1 through 3, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other Federal, State or local law.
For the United States:
Isabelle Katz Pinzler
Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights
By:_____________________________ Date: __________
John L. Wodatch, Chief
Allison Nichol, Deputy Chief
Ron Whisonant, Investigator
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
For the Board of Commissioners,
Moore County, North Carolina:
By: ____________________________ Date: ___________>