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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Lawsuit alleging Disability Act violations filed against City

Fort Thomas Matters Reporter

A Cincinnati Enquirer story recently reported that Elisabeth Culbertson and her husband’s estate filed a lawsuit against the city of Fort Thomas for failing to provide curb ramps on the street so wheelchair-bound residents can make it around the sidewalks easier.

The story stated that the family attorney of William Culbertson Jr, 67, alleged that the city violated Title II of the Americans with Disability Act. Attorney Don Nageleisen wants compensation for the family.

“Fort Thomas clearly failed to provide a ramp for handicapped individuals such as William Culbertson to access the existing sidewalks in this area – literally forcing them to use the main, public street,” Nageleisen told the Enquirer.

City Administrative Officer Don Martin confirmed Fort Thomas has been served the lawsuit and deferred all questions to the city lawer. At the time of the story run by The Enquirer, the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit. 

The city’s insurance carrier assigned the case to Cincinnati lawyer Roger Schoeni. Schoeni said he generally does not talk about pending court matters. But he did provide an update in the case.

“Mr. Nageleisen, with Judge (David) Bunning’s approval, has provided the City the professional courtesty of a 21-day extention of time to respond to the allegations in the complaint,” Schoeni said. “The response date is now September 24. I will file, on behalf of the City, a responsive pleading on or before that date.”

Court records stated William Culbertson headed east up Huntemann Lane toward Cliffgate when he met a neighbor and stopped to talk. In the process, motorist Kristie Barrow hit the back of William Culbertson’s scooter and William Culbertson slammed into the back of his neighbor’s parked Cincinnati Bell truck.

William Culbertson passed away from the injuries weeks after that. Charges were not filed against Barrow for creating the accident. Elisabeth Culbertson told the Enquirer something did not feel right when the couple’s Labrador retriever, Shilo, ran back without her husband.

“I threw my robe on, got in the car and took off,” Elisabeth Culbertson told the Enquirer. “I went up the street and there was my husband lying on the street.”

The story said the suit said William Culberton talked to city employees concerning the limited handicap-accessible sidewalks on Huntemann Lane. Nageleisen said William Culbertson had no other routes to take because Huntemann is a dead-end street. Thus, William Culbertson had to ride in the street.

Nageleisen told the Enquirer federal law required sidewalks for the handicapped starting in 1992. He claims negligence toward Fort Thomas because it has paved Hutemann Lane in the last 20 years and even fixed up the sidewalk but no ramps were added.

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