Fordham Law alumnus Daniel Brown ’98 has been selected by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service as a recipient of one of the 2015 ABA Pro Bono Publico Awards. He is being recognized for his outstanding commitment to volunteer legal services for the poor and disadvantaged and, in particular, for his recent historic litigations on behalf of people with disabilities.
In Brooklyn Center for the Disabled, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al., Brown was co-counsel with Disability Rights Advocates where he represented a class of over 900,000 persons with disabilities in New York City. The suit was filed in the wake of Hurricane Irene and alleged that New York City failed to adequately plan for people with disabilities in emergencies such as natural disasters and terror attacks. After a lengthy trial, on November 17, 2013, the Court issued a 112-page decision concluding that the City violated the American with Disabilities Act and other statutes by failing to provide people with disabilities meaningful access to its emergency preparedness program in several ways. The Court’s ruling, the first of its kind in the country, is a landmark victory for hundreds of thousands of children, women, men, and seniors with disabilities and has significant local and national implications. Following the liability verdict, the remedy phase of the case was settled on September 30, 2014, with the City agreeing to the most comprehensive disaster plan ever established in the country aimed at improving the lives and safety of nearly 900,000 New Yorkers with disabilities. On March 6, 2015, Southern District of New York Judge Jesse Furman granted final approval of the settlement and stated, “I agree with plaintiffs’ counsel that the settlement is ‘nothing short of remarkable,'” and “I have little doubt that this settlement will serve as a model for municipalities nationwide, and, frankly, that all Americans, not just those with disabilities, will be the better for it.”
Brown was also co-counsel with Disability Rights Advocates in Taxis for All Campaign v. Taxi & Limousine Commission, which challenged the New York City taxicab fleet as not being wheelchair accessible. On September 16, 2014, Judge George Daniels approved the terms of the historic settlement of this case, with New York City agreeing to have the New York taxi fleet, which is currently only 1.8% accessible, become 50% accessible over the next six years. This is an unprecedented and extraordinary result in a very complicated case, which will transform the lives of tens of thousands of elderly and people with disabilities in New York City for decades to come and will make New York the most accessible taxicab fleet in the country.
Judge Daniels stated, “We should not minimize the importance of this historic moment. Decades from now, most will take it for granted. But this is one of the most significant acts of inclusion in this city since Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers. It is an act of a city that equally values all of its residents and visitors. I commend the plaintiffs and their lawyers for their persistence and the mayor and the city’s representatives for the good judgment that today’s agreement represents. It makes us a better city. It is simply the right thing to do.”
A partner at Sheppard Mullin in New York, Brown specializes in high stakes, complex, commercial litigations and arbitrations, including consumer class actions. A significant part of his litigation practice has always involved the representation of large and independent/boutique hotel brand managers, franchisors, and owners in various disputes arising from the hotel owner-manager relationship.
Last year, he received Disability Rights Advocates’ New York Impact Litigation Award, given in recognition of his life-changing litigation on behalf of hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities.
The award presentation will take place at the ABA’s annual meeting in Chicago on August 1. In 2008, Fordham Law’s Public Interest Resource Center received the Pro Bono Publico Award.