Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to let a lower court ruling stand, Stephen Hamer announced that he has reached a settlement with the city of Trinidad in a years-long legal battle over the accessibility of sidewalks to those with disabilities.
“I am thrilled that Trinidad has committed to a long-term plan to modify its sidewalks and curb cuts so that all of its citizens with and without disabilities will have an equal opportunity to travel freely and safely,” Hamer said.
Following a 2014 city council meeting where he said that at least 79 sidewalks did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Hamer, who uses a motorized scooter, filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the city to fix its infrastructure. Because he waited over two years after he first informed the council of his finding, a judge initially ruled that Hamer was outside the statute of limitations.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reversed the decision, finding that the statute of limitations did not start at the first moment Hamer discovered noncompliance, but encompassed all injuries within the window prior to filing suit. Consequently, the city violated the ADA “each day that it fails to remedy a non-compliant service, program or activity.”
Hamer and his lawyer, Andrew Bizer, said on Wednesday that the contents of the agreement were confidential. Speaking to the plan, city clerk Audra Garrett said that beginning in 2020 and ending on Dec. 31, 2026, Trinidad will remediate all of its curb cuts and sidewalks. The city will address nine curb cuts and one sidewalk as priorities before the end of March 2021. There are approximately 1,376 such infrastructure improvements total.
“A lot of cities thumb their nose at the ADA,” Hamer told Colorado Politics. “It was a long journey, I can tell you that. I wouldn’t encourage anybody to go through it.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the city's planned infrastructure work per the agreement.