The City of Trinidad recently lost a petition for a rehearing of Stephen Hamer v. the City before a full court hearing of the U. S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The case revolves around the City’s efforts to comply with a federal Department of Justice (DOJ) requirement that the City comply with the provisions of the federal DOJ ruling on ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance in Trinidad.
City Attorney Les Downs said in a Thursday, June 13 phone call that, while the City had lost its petition for a rehearing in Hamer v. City of Trinidad before an ‘en banc’ (full court) appearance of 20 judges of the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, who both individually and collectively, rejected the City’s petition in a ruling dated on Wednesday, June 12. The Court of Appeals ruling stated, in part, “Appellee’s petition for rehearing is denied. The petition for rehearing en banc was transmitted to all of the judges of the court who are in regular active service. As no member of the panel and no judge in regular active service on the court requested that the court be polled, that petition is also denied.”
City Attorney Downs said in a Thursday, June 13 phone call that while the City’s petition for a favorable ruling had been rejected by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, it was now time for the City and its insurer, CIRSA (Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency), to consider what actions to take next.
“While our petition was rejected, it’s not that big a deal to us,” Downs said. “We’ll be having a conference between City staff and CIRSA attorneys to consider what to do next. The most likely course of action for us would be to appeal this ruling to the U. S. Supreme Court, but that would cost us a whole lot of money.
“We also don’t want to create further obligations for other municipalities. The challenge for us and many other older communities across the country is that there are parts of our city’s infrastructure that we struggle to make comply with the provisions of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), the same as older municipalities everywhere. While it’s likely that we will appeal this ruling to the Supreme Court, we also understand that we must comply with the earlier Department of Justice ruling on ADA compliance in Trinidad. As more and more traffic comes through Trinidad every year, these ADA compliance issues will continue to be challenges for us.”
Hamer commented on the Circuit Court’s decision in a Friday, June 14 phone call. “It was a wonderful day when the 10th Circuit Court handed down their decision. This is a great victory for all disabled persons in a six-state area, against those who would discriminate against those people. We want to thank our legal team that did such a great job in putting forward our position.
“We hope the City of Trinidad goes ahead with its efforts to make the city more ADA compliant. This was a resounding victory for all disabled people in this country.”
Downs commented on the 10th Circuit Court’s most recent decision in a Friday, June 14 phone call. “What the court’s decision means is that they decided not to revisit the earlier decision by a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Downs said. “The City has the same legal options we’ve always had before the circuit court’s ruling. We can pursue litigation all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court if we feel that’s necessary. I would like to say that the City has done an excellent job in complying with the DOJ (Department of Justice) requirements and we will continue to do so going into the future.”