Wheelchair-using woman sues Pittsburgh Parking Authority over too-tall meters

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An Allegheny County resident who uses a wheelchair sued the Pittsburgh Parking Authority today, alleging that its new parking meters are too high for her, and others like her, to reach.

Debra J. Stemmler, whose age and neighborhood of residence were not immediately available, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court, claiming that the authority is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In September, according to the complaint, Ms. Stemmler parked at a metered space, but couldn't reach the controls, and left a note on her dashboard explaining that. She was ticketed anyway.

Regulations stemming from the act, according to the complaint, require that the "operable parts" of parking meters be no more than four feet above the ground.

"Since July of 2012, [the authority] has installed parking meters with operable parts that are more than 48 inches above the ground across the city," wrote attorney R. Bruce Carlson, representing Ms. Stemmler. "Specifically, coin slots and buttons necessary for the operation of the meter are more than 48 inches above the ground."

The lawsuit seeks class action status, and demands a permanent injunction requiring that the authority bring its meters into compliance. The lawsuit also demands payment of costs of litigation and attorney fees.

Authority Executive Director David Onorato was not immediately available.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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