MAY 31, 2023 – Litigating on behalf of a group of plaintiffs with disabilities who are unable to navigate the city due to sprawling encampments, a Davis Wright Tremaine LLP team led by John DiLorenzo won a settlement from the city of Portland, requiring the city to remove tents and other obstructions that block sidewalks.

The Portland City Council unanimously approved the proposed settlement today. It will be submitted to a federal judge. This is the first case in the country focusing solely on the presence of encampments on city sidewalks under the Americans With Disabilities Act that has come to a court-supervised resolution.

“People with disabilities deserve to use transportation corridors to pursue their daily activities unimpeded,” said DiLorenzo, who achieved the settlement just nine months after filing suit.

The plaintiffs included a caretaker and nine people with disabilities, including blindness, who use wheelchairs, scooters, canes and walkers, and whose lives are significantly impacted by the presence of tents, personal property, and debris on Portland’s pedestrian throughways.

Among the many conditions of the settlement are a requirement that the city devote at least $8 million for fiscal year 2023/24, and at least $3 million annually for the following four fiscal years, to campsite removals and associated functions. The city will also establish a system allowing all residents to report sidewalk obstructions in real time, allow public tracking of the city’s actions in response to reports, and provide quarterly accounts of its overall compliance with the terms of the agreement. The city will also pay the plaintiffs’ reasonable attorney fees, costs, and expenses incurred in pursuing the lawsuit.

DiLorenzo was supported by Davis Wright Tremaine litigators Aaron Stuckey, Chris Swift, and Moe Tangman.

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