JUN 15 1995

The Honorable Nancy L. Johnson U.S. House of Representatives 343 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Congresswoman Johnson: Your letter to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of your constituent, XX , has been referred to me for response. We apologize for the delay in responding. XX letter questions a Connecticut State Department of Transportation decision to install wheelchair ramps at rural intersections as part of a project to replace old traffic lights. According to the article attached to XX letter, the Connecticut Department of Transportation believes such wheelchair ramps are required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by State and local government entities. The ADA directed the Department of Justice to issue a regulation implementing title II. I am enclosing a copy of the Department's regulation and the Title II Technical Assistance Manual for your information. When public entities build new facilities or alter existing facilities, the title II regulation requires that such new construction or alterations be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. The regulation allows covered entities to apply either the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) or the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards) as the standards for accessibility of new construction and alterations. The Connecticut project referred to in XX letter appears to be an alteration to existing traffic signals. Merely replacing traffic signals or installing crossing buttons would not trigger an obligation to install curb ramps. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Blizard, Hill, FOIA Udd:Hille:Policylt:Johnson.ltr


-2The title II regulation specifically addresses curb ramps at altered streets, roads, and highways. When streets are altered, ramps are required at altered intersections if they have curbs that prevent entry to or from pedestrian walkways. 28 C.F.R. S 35.151(e)(1). In addition, ramps are required when pedestrian walkways are altered. 28 C.F.R. S 35.151(e)(2). Curb ramps are not required to be installed in the absence of a pedestrian walkway. Nor are they required in the absence of a curb or other barrier between the street and the pedestrian walkway. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Deval L. Patrick Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures Title II regulation Title II Technical Assistance Manual


XX No. Granby, CT. XX 14 March, 1995

The Hon. Nancy Johnson United States House of Representatives Washington, D.C. Dear Representative Johnson; Undoubtedly your staff has brought the subject of the enclosed Hartford Courant editorial to your attention. This editorial which was published on March 14, 1995 is the second time the Courant has published an article on the subject of installing crosswalks where they will only be used by wildlife. I guess it would be easy to simply glance at the enclosed, throw

it aside and worry about more important things ..... well, an awful lot of people think this is important! I don't think it is the incident itself as much as the mindset of those who make such decisions and those who let them stand! Don't you thing you really should do something about this sort of thing? There were an awful lot of frustrations in the past where you and your colleagues simply had to bow to the majority; but now we have a new majority, and you're it! Now, a half million here and a half million there can begin to add up to a lot of money! You want to cut expense without reducing services, right? Well, a half million here and a half million there can really help! You are in a position to do something about this stupid interpretation of regulations . . . or should we say "this stupid regulation"? I hope you will use your good office to get this project killed; you aught to, you know! Very truly yours, XX cc: The Hartford Courant

01-03658 Publisher DAVID S. BARRETT The Hartford Courant Editor Established 1764 JOHN J. ZAKARIAN THE OLDEST CONTINUOUSLY PUBLISHED Editorial Page Editor NEWSPAPER IN AMERICA CLIFFORD L. TEUTSCH, Managing Editor ELISSA PAPIRNO, Reader Representative EDITORIALS GOP legal reforms go too far Although changes in this nation's overbur-

dened system of civil justice are needed, the three legal reform bills approved by the House last week would severely limit the ability of people to sue for damages. The measures sent to the Senate would: * Set federal standards in product-liability cases, and require states to abide by them. * Impose strict limits on punitive damages in all civil cases. * Require the loser to pay the court costs and legal fees of the winner in many cases. Last year, Connecticut Democratic Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman and Christopher J. Dodd, among others, proposed substantive but more careful changes in product-liability law. In the GOP version, stockholders, for example, would have to prove a company or broker lied in order to prove fraud. If a stockholer failed to win a lawsuit, he or she could be forced to pay court costs and legal fees of the defendants. Granted, far too many frivolous lawsuits are filed by lawyers who try to force companies to settle rather than face a long and costly trial. Some lawyers maintain a stable of "professional plaintiffs" and use them to file lawsuits as soon as the stock price or dividend falls. But truly aggrieved stockholders should be able to sue for winner. And lawyers who filed what the judge ruled were frivolous lawsuits would face fines. The bill is aimed at forcing pretrial mediated settlements, an excellent idea. It would also do away with the abused contingency-fee system, which generates about $15 billion a year for lawyers in personal-injury and product-liability lawsuits. But this reform does not provide for a fee system based on work done. It should. The reform aimed at replacing state productliability laws with a single federal standard and capping damage awards should be reconsidered. Limiting awards is fine, but such a law should be written carefully. In its present version, the bill could protect firms and professionals from being sued over clearly reckless or incompetent behavior. The House Republicans, who champion em-

powering local governments, want to nationalize liability laws. States would be unable to enact versions tougher than the federal liability laws. By contrast, the Lieberman-Dodd measure would protect most state liability laws and promote pretrial mediated settlements. Reform of liability laws has been overdue. but what was tilted one way has now been tilted the other way by the House. The Senate should bring a balance to the scale of justice for plaintiffs