Case Study

Paralyzed Veterans of America et al v. U.S. DOT

Challenging the Department of Transportation’s Rollback of Protections for Disabled Air Travelers

 

On behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America, Democracy Forward filed suit against the Department of Transportation (DOT) for unlawfully attempting to roll back protections for airline travelers with disabilities.

These protections, which were the result of a five-year rulemaking process and set to take effect in January 2018, would require domestic airlines to report data on lost and damaged wheelchairs and scooters to help travelers make informed and safe travel decisions.  However in March, DOT abruptly delayed the rule’s implementation date until 2019.

DOT made its decision without providing notice or an opportunity for the public to comment on the delay, a clear violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.  The agency simply asserted the delay was necessary due to implementation “challenges,” citing a single email the agency received from the airline industry.

This delay will undoubtedly make airline travel more difficult and inaccessible for passengers with disabilities. As Paralyzed Veterans of America National President David Zurfluh said, “Wheelchairs are not a luxury.  It’s just like having your legs end up in one city when you land in another, if you can imagine that. Wheelchairs replace functionality and provide independence.  Having your only means of leaving the plane get lost or damaged is demoralizing. It is a significant issue for all travelers with mobility limitations, and one Paralyzed Veterans of America will not relent on until it’s fixed.”

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