Washington, DC— Today, on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), Democracy Forward appeared in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to argue against the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) abrupt and unlawful rollback of a rule intended to make air travel safer and easier for passengers with disabilities.
In today’s court hearing, a panel of judges emphasized DOT’s “significant legal problems” in delaying the rule without appropriate public notice and opportunity for comments. “You are the government after all,” one judge noted, “can’t the government do what is right because it is right?”
In the span of one year, PVA has filed two legal actions challenging DOT’s repeated disregard for the indignities faced by air travelers with disabilities. In July 2017, PVA sued DOT after it halted the implementation of regulations requiring domestic airlines to track and report data on lost and damaged wheelchairs; these regulations were the subject of today’s hearing.
“Today’s hearing shows that our case is strong, which is great news for travelers with disabilities. A lost or damaged wheelchair for many of our members is like being paralyzed all over again. Paralyzed Veterans of America wants to make sure all people with disabilities can fly securely with their basic rights to access intact. The ability to travel is a fundamental right that must not be delayed, and we’re holding DOT responsible for making it happen now,” said PVA National President David Zurfluh.
In a separate lawsuit filed in July 2018, PVA seeks to hold DOT accountable for failing to issue additional rules related to making airplane restrooms accessible for travelers with disabilities.
“While providing absolutely no explanation for its actions, DOT has unlawfully delayed the implementation of a vital rule for travelers with disabilities,” said Democracy Forward Counsel Karianne Jones. “We will continue to argue that their actions not only violate the law, but also harm passengers with disabilities and should be reversed.”
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans of America also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.
December 7, 2018