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Pekin settles class-action lawsuit over ADA complaints of poor sidewalk conditions, plaintiffs react

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 4:46 PM CDT
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PEKIN (Heart of Illinois ABC) - The City of Pekin has entered into a consent decree, settling a class-action lawsuit against the city, surrounding alleged violations of the American’s with Disabilities Act, filed in 2018.

Heart of Illinois ABC first shared the story of Austin Calloway in 2018. He survived a stroke 10 years ago and uses a wheelchair.

“I travel all over on the road on my wheel chair,” said Calloway.

Calloway and five other plaintiffs are named in the ADA complaint regarding the sidewalks in Pekin. They say the poor sidewalks make it hard, or nearly impossible to get around.

The class-action lawsuit accused Pekin of failing to make the sidewalks up to ADA standards.

“It’s not safe, it’s not safe at all,” said Calloway.

Monday night, the city council unanimously approved to settle.

“We have a 57 page consent decree that has been prepared and approved,” said filing attorney, Carl Reardon.

Reardon and Chicago-based attorneys filed the lawsuit, also representing Robert Chriswell.

Chriswell survived two stroked and uses a cane since. He is grateful to know there will be change.

“So that way these younger kids don’t go through what we did,” said Chriswell.

While progress has been made on some of the sidewalks, there is still work that needs to be done.

“It’s an independent engineering firm that will come in and assess all the sidewalks in the city,” said Reardon.

The city has agreed to fix the sidewalks - and has 10 years to get it done. Each plaintiff will also be paid $10,000 along with their attorney fees. This brought Calloway to tears.

“It will really help me out,” Calloway continued, “I get so much a month and that’s it.”

The city is required to spend a minimum of $250,000 a year on accessibility improvements and an additional $1.5 million in the next three years.

“I feel like justice is being served,” said Reardon.

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