Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Suit to Protect Rights of Disabled Air Travelers Progresses in Court Today
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.”