The Hotel Carter was one of five theater district hotels accused of not providing adequate
access to the disabled. (Photo: Michael Nagle for The New York Times)
The United States attorney’s office in Manhattan has filed lawsuits against the owners of five theater district hotels — the Ameritania, the Amsterdam Court, the Carter, the Moderne and the Radio City Suites — that accuse the hotels of violating the federal Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990.
Each suit seeks civil penalties of as large as $55,000 and a court order requiring the hotels to comply with the law.
The United States attorney’s office began a review of about 50 theater district hotels in 2005 to assess their compliance with the act. So far, the office has entered into voluntary compliance agreements with 15 and is finalizing such agreements with an additional 29 hotels. The five hotels that are named in the litigation are the first to be sued in connection with the review.
“Our office has worked for more than three years with theater district hotels to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities, and numerous hotels have entered into voluntary compliance agreements that have greatly expanded the number of accessible rooms in New York’s theater district,” the acting United States attorney, Lev L. Dassin, said in a statement. “The complaints filed today demonstrate our intention fully to enforce the Americans With Disabilities Act in the important area of access to hotel accommodations.”
The complaints filed by Mr. Dassin’s office allege the following:
Gregory Calabro, a lawyer for Tran Truong, co-owner of the Hotel Carter, said he was unaware of the lawsuit, but he added that the hotel complied with federal regulations. “The hotel is handicap accessible,” Mr. Calabro said. “There are several rooms that are A.D.A.-compliant.”
He said the wheelchair-accessible rooms have doors 36 inches wide, and roll-in showers. He added that the hotel operates a mechanical lift that takes guests in wheelchairs up a flight of stairs from the street entrance to the lobby. He said the lift was recently removed temporarily so that new carpeting could be put in on the stairs. He was unsure of the lift’s current status.
He said that the hotel remained a sought-after, inexpensive place. “Is it a palace? No,” he said. “Is it the strange place it might have been a few years ago? No, and it’s getting better.”
Four assistant United States attorneys — Lawrence H. Fogelman, Carolina A. Fornos, David J. Kennedy and Heather K. McShain — are in charge of the cases.