Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Expert Witness Testimony Excluded in Police Station Accessibility Case

Plaintiffs filed suit against defendants related to an accessibility claim.  Defendants hired an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Expert Witness to provide testimony.  Plaintiffs filed a motion to exclude this expert witness testimony.  The court granted the motion.

Facts:  This case (Disabled in Action v. City Of New York et al. – United States District Court – Southern District of New York – March 4th, 2019) involves an accessibility claim.  The plaintiffs allege that the majority of the defendants’ seventy-seven police stations throughout New York City contain significant architectural barriers to people using wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility devices, which is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and other laws.  The defendants’ have hired Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Expert Witness Antonio Pinto to provide testimony.  The plaintiffs have filed a motion to exclude this expert from testifying.

Discussion:  In order to assess accurately whether the defendants’ stations comply with ADA standards, Pinto and his team had to measure the features of those stations and then compare the measurements to the relevant ADA standards.  Pinto has admitted that he employed an eye test in measuring various architectural features of the defendants stations.  Pinto also admitted that the eye test he employed is accurate only within one or two inches here or there.  The court opines that the eye test is not a reliable methodology under Rule 702 and Daubert.

In addition, Pinto could not say at deposition whether the members of his survey team employed any particular techniques for measuring architectural features to assess their compliance with ADA standards.  In addition, he could not say whether the techniques his team used are generally accepted as reliable among accessibility surveyors.  Also, Pinto admitted that no member of his survey team had been trained in ADA accessibility standards.  Thus, the court opines that Pinto’s employees made their measurements using unreliable methods.

The court also opines that Pinto’s testimony and reports are also unreliable because he and his survey team arbitrarily decided which of their resulting measurements to include in his expert reports.  The court notes that it is unclear whether his survey team measured architectural features relevant under the ADA Standards for Accessible Design but did not report them or failed to measure relevant features altogether.  The court thus opines that Pinto’s failure to stick to a coherent standard for including or omitting measurements from his compliance reports renders his opinions unreliable under Rule 702.

Last, at least some of Pinto’s opinions are based on speculation.  The court opines that Pinto’s failure to substantiate his assumptions underlying his compliance opinions renders his opinion as unreliable under Rule 702.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Antonio Pinto is granted.