The New York City Housing Authority has settled a class action brought on behalf of disabled tenants claiming widespread and systematic failure to maintain elevators in working condition. The settlement, approved on Sept. 5 by Eastern District Magistrate Judge Robert Levy, requires that within six months the city must repair 70 percent of all elevator outages within eight hours of learning of the outage and 90 percent within 24 hours. The suit, Brito v. New York City Housing Authority, 09-cv-01621, was brought after outages left tenants confined to their apartments for several days, stuck for hours in lobbies, or forced to hobble down several flights of stairs on leg braces.
Jane Greengold Stevens, director of litigation for the New York Legal Assistance Group, said yesterday, “We are delighted that NYCHA has agreed to improve the elevator service to its most vulnerable residents. Although everybody benefits from working elevators, they are especially critical to the health and safety of people with mobility impairments.” Julia Russell and Jennifer Magida of the Legal Assistance Group also worked on the case, as did Andrew Ehrlich of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison,and and Sam Yospe , formerly with the firm, who provided their services pro bono. Steven Rappaport defended the case for the city. Under the settlement, the Legal Assistance Group will receive $340,000 in legal fees and $25,000 in costs.