Long Beach, Calif., Settles Sidewalk-Access Case

     (CN) – A paraplegic has settled his lawsuit against Long Beach over inaccessible sidewalks, the 9th Circuit said Wednesday, calling off insight it sought from the California Supreme Court.
     Larry Beauchamp sued the city in 2010, alleging that some of its curbs were improperly cut and not maintained for easy wheelchair access to sidewalks.
     After a trial, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner found that the alleged barriers violated the California Disabled Persons Act (CDPA) and awarded Beauchamp $17,000 based on four barriers that he frequently encountered between 2008 and 2010.
     Beauchamp argued on appeal in the 9th Circuit that the CDPA allowed him to collect for each distinct denial of access. He counted 440 separate occasions and said he should received $440,000. Beauchamp also appealed the lower court’s denial of injunctive relief under the ADA or California law.
     Finding California law ambiguous as to whether CDPA offenses eligible for damages should be counted individually or aggregated, the 9th Circuit asked the California Supreme Court to weigh in on the case in September 2013.
     The state’s high court certified the question in November 2013, but had not ruled on the issue before Beauchamp and Long Beach filed a joint motion to dismiss the appeal last week.
     “The parties have reached a settlement of all of plaintiff’s claims as set forth in plaintiff’s government claim and complaint filed in this matter, as well as any claim for costs and/or attorney’s fees,” the motion states.
     In a brief order filed Wednesday, the 9th Circuit lifted its stay on the case and dismissed the appeal.
     Monte Machit, the assistant city attorney for Long Beach, said in an interview that the city has agreed to pay Beauchamp’s attorney $278,000 in fees and costs, on top of the $17,000 that the court awarded Beauchamp.
     The city will also make “structural changes” at two intersections, Machit said. Beauchamp’s El Segundo attorney, Jeff Harrison, did not return a request for comment.

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