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Class-Action Settlement Notice
To California Amtrak Thruway Bus Passengers
Who Use Wheelchairs (Including Scooters)
June 2000


SETTLEMENT NOTICE
(June 2000)

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS WITH MOBILITY IMPAIRMENTS WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS (INCLUDING SCOOTERS), AND WHO TRAVEL ON AMTRAK THRUWAY BUSES IN CALIFORNIA

I. Notice of Class Action

On August 6, 1998, Plaintiff Betty L. Ingram filed a class-action Complaint in Ingram v. Serendipity Land Yachts, Civ. No. 98-3058-CRB (N.D. Cal.). Mrs. Ingram filed this Complaint on behalf of herself and all passengers with mobility disabilities who use common wheelchairs on Amtrak Thruway Bus services in California (?Plaintiffs?). The Complaint alleged that the Defendants failed to comply with various state and federal laws concerning the safe transportation of bus passengers who use wheelchairs (including scooters) and the proper training of bus drivers to provide respectful and courteous service to passengers with disabilities. Each of the Defendants denies all of the Complaint's individual and class claims, and asserts that it is in full compliance with all applicable laws regulating its responsibilities to persons with disabilities. The parties have agreed that, in order to avoid protracted and costly litigation, this controversy should be settled as described in this Notice, subject to the approval of the Court.

II. Settlement Agreement

The following terms of the Settlement Agreement (“Settlement”) were reached after six months of intensive negotiations between the parties, which were conducted with the assistance of two Magistrate Judges of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The parties are requesting that the trial judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, approve this class-action settlement agreement under Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 23(b)(2) provides that all members of a class-action settlement class are both entitled to and bound by the terms of equitable and injunctive relief set out in a settlement agreement approved under that Rule. Rule 23(b)(2) does not provide for any monetary damage payments to settlement class members, but class members retain the right to pursue any potential claims for damages that they might have related to specific individual experiences.

A. Parties To The Settlement

The parties to the Settlement include Plaintiff Betty L. Ingram, on behalf of herself and the Settlement Class, and the Defendants, which are: (1) the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (“Amtrak”), which provides or arranges for Amtrak Thruway Bus services; (2) Serendipity Land Yachts Ltd. (“Serendipity”), which provides Amtrak Thruway Bus services in California; (3) Antelope Valley Bus Co. Inc. (“AVB”), which provides Amtrak Thruway Bus services in California; and (4) Coach USA, Inc. (“Coach USA”) which is the parent company of its wholly-owned subsidiary AVB.

B. Persons Included in the Settlement Class

The Settlement Class includes all persons with Mobility Impairments who use Common Wheelchairs, and who are past, present or future riders of Amtrak Thruway Buses in California. A “Mobility Impairment” means a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. A “Common Wheelchair” means a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or four-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered, provided the aid does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied.

C. Buses Covered By the Settlement

Any primary over-the-road bus used to provide scheduled, dedicated Amtrak Thruway Bus services in California is covered by the Settlement (“Covered Buses”). Such buses are covered regardless of whether they are operated by Defendants, or by other entities who are not parties to the Settlement. Secondary buses, which are used when primary buses are in for repair or maintenance or otherwise out of service, are not covered by this Agreement.

D. Terms of Settlement

1. Obligation To Provide Wheelchair Lift Equipment and
Securement and Restraint Devices (“Access Features”)

Generally: As of the Effective Date, and continuing for the length of the Settlement, all Covered Buses will be wheelchair-lift equipped. In addition, all Covered Buses will have securement and restraint devices, and drivers of covered buses will use such devices to secure all Common Wheelchairs, and to provide for the restraint of persons using Common Wheelchairs, as provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulation that is applicable to over-the-road buses (?OTRB Securement and Restraint Rule?).

Special Provisions: In order to fully effectuate the Settlement, Amtrak will incorporate the requirements of the Settlement into all new Requests for Proposals (?RFPs?) issued and all new contracts entered into for provision of Amtrak Thruway Bus services in California, regardless of whether the entities providing such services are parties to the Settlement.



2. Maintenance of Access Features

Covered Buses shall be subject to maintenance and inspection requirements to ensure that Access Features are available and operative. However, isolated or temporary interruptions in the operative condition of such access features due to necessary maintenance or repairs or due to temporary breakdowns while in-service will not constitute a violation of the Settlement.

3. Information and Training

Information about Settlement terms will be provided to persons involved in implementing or ensuring compliance with the Settlement. In addition, drivers of Covered Buses will be provided with training designed to ensure compliance, including refresher training on at least a yearly basis.

4. Reporting and Monitoring

Entities operating Covered Buses will maintain information and records related to Settlement compliance. Amtrak will be entitled to make inspections of such entities for purposes of ensuring compliance, and Amtrak will be responsible for providing Class Counsel with reports regarding compliance. Class Counsel will also be entitled to request Amtrak to make, and Amtrak will be responsible for making, investigations related to Settlement Class member complaints of non-compliance.

5. Effective Date and Length of Settlement

The Settlement will go into effect on October 30, 2000, or on the date on which the Court approves the Settlement, whichever is later. The Settlement will remain in effect for three (3) years.

6. Monetary Payment To Named Plaintiff Betty Ingram and Attorneys' Fees

In the Complaint, named plaintiff Betty Ingram asserted individual damage claims on behalf of herself for physical and civil rights injuries arising out of her travel on Amtrak Thruway Buses in August 1997. Each Defendant denies Mrs. Ingram's individual damage claims. However, to avoid further litigation, the parties have agreed that certain of the Defendants will pay Mrs. Ingram the total amount of $20,000 to settle these claims. In addition, certain of the Defendants will pay Class Counsel the total amount of $90,000 for the work that they have done and the expenses that they have incurred in litigating this case and negotiating the Settlement.


III. Options For Settlement Class Members

A. You may do nothing, and you will remain a class member and be both entitled to and bound by the terms of equitable and injunctive relief set out in the Settlement if it is approved under Rule 23(b)(2).

B. You may object to the Settlement, if you follow the process for objections that is set forth below.

C Regardless of whether you do nothing or object, if the Settlement Agreement is approved under Rule 23(b)(2) you will retain the right to pursue any potential claims for damages that you might have related to specific travel experiences on Amtrak Thruway Buses.

IV. Fairness Hearing and Process For Objections

A Fairness Hearing will be held on September 8, 2000, at 8:30 a.m. in front of United States District Judge Charles R. Breyer, Courtroom 8 of the United States District Court, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, California, where the Court will consider the parties' request for Court approval of the Settlement Agreement, and will hear objections, if any, to the Settlement.

If you are a Settlement Class member who objects to the Settlement, you must submit a written Statement of Objection that: identifies the case, Ingram v. Serendipity Land Yachts, Civ. No. 98-3058-CRB (N.D. Cal.); contains your name and address; and explains the basis of your objection. If you wish to appear and present such objection at the Fairness Hearing, you must also submit a Notice of Intention to Appear that identifies the case, contains your name and address, and explains the reason the appearance is desired. Any Statement of Objection or Notice of Intention to Appear must be filed on or before August 25, 2000.

The original copy of any Statement or Notice must be mailed to:

Clerk of the Court
United States District Court
450 Golden Gate Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

In addition, copies of any Statement or Notice must also be mailed to each of the addresses below:


Counsel for Plaintiffs: Linda D. Kilb
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF)
2212 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

William F. Alderman
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
400 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Counsel for Defendant Amtrak: Alicia Serfaty
Amtrak Law Department
National Railroad Passenger Corp.
60 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Theodora Lee
Littler Mendelson, P.C.
1111 Broadway, Suite 1510
Oakland, CA 94607

Counsel for Defendant Serendipity: Damien Morozumi
Law Offices of Damien Morozumi
870 Market Street, Suite 1123
San Francisco, CA 94102

Counsel for Defendants AVB
and Coach USA: Tracy L. Cahill
Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp LLP
11377 W. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064-1683
V. How To Get Further Information

For additional information regarding the Settlement Agreement, or a copy of the Settlement Agreement, Settlement Class members or their counsel may contact:




Linda D. Kilb
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF)
2212 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 644-2555 (voice/TDD)
(510) 841-8645 (fax)
dredf@dredf.org

Settlement Class members or their counsel may also obtain detailed information about the case by examining the case file located in the office of the Clerk of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 522-2000. DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT OR THE COURT CLERK'S OFFICE FOR INFORMATION.



Dated: ________ __, 2000. CLERK OF THE COURT
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


 

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