Settlement: Disabled Must Be Included in Disaster Plans

Settlement: Disabled Must Be Included in Disaster Plans

By Rick Orlov, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/25/2012 08:41:57 PM PDT
Updated: 04/25/2012 08:45:42 PM PDT
In a legal settlement with far-reaching implications, the city of Los Angeles agreed Wednesday to develop new emergency response plans that will consider care for the disabled.

The settlement, which calls for $2.1 million in payments to the law firms representing the disabled, is the largest so far won by disabled rights advocates seeking to have plans for earthquakes, fires, flooding and other emergencies reflect the special needs of the community.

"We have been trying to work it out with the city for years," said Sidney Wolinsky of Disability Rights Advocates of Berkeley, who brought the legal action along with the Disability Rights Legal Center of Los Angeles.

"This is the first case that we have been able to resolve after the judge ruled our way. It will be a precedent for us as we work with other cities.

"This has been a long-standing problem with agencies in not considering the needs of the disabled," Wolinsky said. "I think it has been a problem for emergency and disaster planning and has been one of those things that have fallen through the cracks."

Under the agreement, Los Angeles emergency planners will have to develop special plans for the disabled - there are an estimated 500,000 people with disabilities in Los Angeles - in case of an emergency.