Friday, January 26, 2007

Fourth Circuit holds in ADA case that remedial decree may not be imposed on City of Richmond

In Bacon v. City of Richmond, the Richmond School Board agreed in a settlement agreement to brings its schools into compliance with the ADA. The Settlement Agreement, however, provided that the School Board's obligations were "contingent on" the School Board "receiving funding from the City of Richmond." The City objected because the Board was vested with authority over the schools and thus the ADA violations were not the fault of the City. The obligation placed on the City in the Settlement Agreement brought it into the case, with the district court ultimately ordering the City to "ensure that the Richmond City Public Schools become ADA-compliant" within five years.

The Fourth Circuit overturned the district court's order. According to the panel, the district court's remedial order undermines the basic precept of law that remedies may be imposed only on responsible parties. Injunctive relief may not issue where, as here, the City played no part in depriving any plaintiff of the rights guaranteed by the ADA.

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