For Immediate Release
June 11, 2009
Contact: James Fox, Esq.
Disabilities Rights Center, (603) 228-0432
After almost four years of litigation, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued a final order in the case of William Charles Tinker v. Town of Tilton. The court held that the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA) requires the Town of Tilton to ensure that a sidewalk used by an individual with a mobility impairment is kept clear of snow and ice to enable him to use the sidewalk and access stores and other community amenities.
Mr. Tinker has a walking disability and uses a scooter to travel. Because the sidewalks were not cleared of snow and ice during the winter, Mr. Tinker has been forced to ride his scooter in the road on busy Route 3 to get to the store. As there is a curb between the road and the sidewalk, it would be difficult for Mr. Tinker and others with mobility impairments to get off the road in an emergency situation. Nevertheless, the Town of Tilton refused to provide any snow removal efforts for this section of sidewalk and even attempted to close the sidewalk in the winter to avoid its ADA obligations. Mr. Tinker filed an action in the New Hampshire Superior Court in July of 2005 to require the Town of Tilton to clear a sidewalk pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Supreme Court concluded that the “refusal to remove any snow is not a reasonable limit upon the removal of snow, but is an abdication by the town of its obligation altogether.” Due to the Town’s violation of the ADA, the Town has been ordered to pay Mr. Tinker’s legal fees.
Mr. Tinker is happy that he and other individuals with disabilities will be able to travel safely in the community. He is gratified that “justice has prevailed.”
The Disabilities Rights Center is pleased with the Supreme Court’s recognition that the Town of Tilton cannot avoid the important requirements of the ADA. This case highlights the obligation of all towns and cities to maintain the accessibility of sidewalks and walkways so that individuals with disabilities may participate fully in the community.
The Disabilities Rights Center is New Hampshire’s federally designated Protection and Advocacy agency and is located in Concord, NH.