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Feltenstein v. City of New Rochelle

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 30, 2017

JENNIFER FELTENSTEIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF NEW ROCHELLE, Defendant.

          OPINION & ORDER

          NELSON S. ROMAN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Jennifer Feltenstein initiated this action against the City of New Rochelle ("Defendant" or "the City"), alleging violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("RA"), 29 U.S.C. § 794, New York State Human Rights Law, N.Y. Executive Law § 296, and N.Y. Civil Rights Law § 40. Before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed by Defendant pursuant to Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, Defendant's motion is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         The following facts are derived from the parties' 56.1 statements and the record, and are undisputed unless otherwise noted.

         Defendant owns and manages the operations of the New Roc parking structure located at 50 Harrison Street, New Rochelle, New York ("the New Roc garage" or the "Garage"). (PI. Reply to Def. Rule 56.1 Statement and Additional Paragraphs ("PI. 56.1 Reply") ¶ 3, ECF No. 44; Def. Reply to PI. Rule 56.1 Statement ("Def. 56.1 Reply") ¶ 57, ECF No.42.) The New Roc garage, constructed between 1992 and 2010, has seven levels and approximately 2, 000 parking spaces. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶¶ 21, 28.) Defendant is responsible for restriping parking spaces at the Garage, and repaints the spaces every few years. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 58.) Forty-seven of the Garage spaces have been designated by Defendant as accessible for the disabled, all of which are located on the lowest level[1] of the garage. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 4; Def. 56.1 Reply ¶¶ 28, 29.)

         Prior to its construction, city officials held a meeting in August 1998 where the development of the Garage was discussed. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 30.) Four days after this meeting, a city official circulated an “interdepartmental communication” with comments regarding the aforementioned meeting which included the following: “Issue 1 and 19. Are the spaces dispersed and located closest to the accessible entrances for the various occupancies, B2, C1, C2, C5?.” (Def. 56 Reply ¶¶ 31-33; see also Declaration of Plaintiff's Counsel Glenn Parker (“Parker Decl.”), Ex. 4, Batestamp CITY 00001, ECF No. 36.)

         Plaintiff, who resides in New Rochelle, New York, uses a wheelchair due to a medical condition. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶¶ 1, 5.) Plaintiff has been to the New Roc Garage multiple times. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 43.) She utilizes the Garage in order to go to the Regal movie theater located on LeCount Place, New Rochelle. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 6.) In fact, Plaintiff has utilized and parked at the Garage to go to the movie theater more than twenty times. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 44.) When Plaintiff utilizes the garage, her father drives her in a wheel chair van with a ramp. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 8.) Plaintiff gets into and out of the van via this internal ramp. (Def 56.1 Reply ¶ 50.) When they arrive at the garage, before parking the van, Plaintiff's father drops her and her mother on the first floor, in an area leading directly to the Regal movie theater. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 9.) After being dropped off, Plaintiff can often travel to the entrance of the Regal theater without encountering any obstructions, such as doors or lack of curb cuts. (Def 56.1 Reply ¶ 52.) Plaintiff has never been in the van with her father when he has parked on the lower level of the Garage where the handicap accessible spaces are located. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 11.)

         Plaintiff also frequents Applebees and Buffalo Wild Wings, which are also located on LeCount Place, in the vicinity of the theater, but does not utilize the garage when she does so. (Id. ¶ 7; Def 56.1 Reply ¶ 35.) Instead, when she visits these restaurants her father drops her off directly in front of their entrances. (Pl. 56.1 Reply ¶ 7.) Plaintiff has also stayed in and visited her grandmother at the Marriott Hotel when her grandmother visits roughly once a year. (Def 56.1 Reply ¶ 54.)

         Inside the Garage, the pedestrian entrance to LeCount Place is located on the first floor level. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶¶ 36, 37.) There are no accessible parking spaces on the first level of the Garage. (Id. ¶ 39.) The lower level, where the accessible spaces are, is located one level below LeCount Place, the street where the Regal theater, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Applebees are located. (Id. ¶ 38.) Thus to access these establishments, one who utilizes the accessible spaces on the lower level may take an elevator to the first level and access LeCount Place through a pedestrian entrance on that level of the Garage. (Id. ¶¶ 39, 40.)

         Plaintiff has testified that she desires a handicap accessible parking space on the first level so that she and her family can safely enter and exit their van together at the same location, where the van can also be parked. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 55.) Plaintiff has also testified that she intends to return to the Garage when she goes to the Regal theater, Applebees, and/or Buffalo Wild Wings, and while visiting her grandmother at the Marriott Hotel. (Id. ¶ 56.)

         On September 18, 2015, Defendant represented to the Court that it had made the decision to create accessible parking spaces on the first level of the Garage; however, this work was not completed within the timeframe initially contemplated by Defendant. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶¶ 66-68.) On December 17, 2015, the City requested a 60 day extension to file its motion in order to complete the bidding process and undertake work on the Garage. (ECF No. 27.) Although Defendant received an extension, at the end of that time period, a bid had not yet been accepted. (Def. 56.1 Reply ¶ 70.) Defendant contends that the project was expected to be completed by June 22, 2016. (Id. ¶ 71.)

         STANDARD ON A SUMMARY JUDGMENT

         Motions for summary judgment are governed by Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule states in pertinent part:

A party may move for summary judgment, identifying each claim or defense- or the part of each claim or defense-on which summary judgment is sought. The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). The moving party bears the initial burden of demonstrating the absence of any genuine dispute or issue of material fact by pointing to evidence in the record, “including depositions, documents . . . [and] affidavits or declarations, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A), “which it believes demonstrate[s] the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party has fulfilled its preliminary burden, the onus shifts to the nonmoving party to raise the existence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A); Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 252 (1986). Courts must “constru[e] the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw[] all reasonable inferences in its favor.” Fincher v. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., 604 F.3d 712, 720 (2d Cir. 2010) (quoting Allianz Ins. Co. v. Lerner, 416 F.3d 109, 113 (2d Cir. 2005)). In reviewing the record, “the ...


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