A Fort Lauderdale man is asking a federal judge to block an agreement in a class-action lawsuit in which Boston has agreed to install or repair 15,000 handicap ramps, but the judge says he won't listen to his arguments unless he can first explain why and prove he actually spends time in Boston.
William Norkunas, himself a wheelchair user who has filed frequent disabilities-related lawsuits, wants to be heard at an Oct. 19 hearing before US District Court Judge Richard Stearns, who is overseeing the agreement between the city and local advocates for the disabled. He made his request in a filing last week in which he claimed to be a member of the class represented by the four residents of Jamaica Plain and Braintree who brought the suit, but did not specify just what was wrong with the agreement beyond that it is "not fair, not reasonable, not adequate and not in the best interests of the settlement class."
In a ruling today, Stearns said that before he'll listen to Norkunas, he first has to specify just what his problem with the settlement is - and prove he is a member of the class of citizens who are a party to the suit that led to the settlement - specifically, people with mobility disabilities who have some connection with Boston.
The class action is brought on behalf of individuals with mobility disabilities who live in, work in, or visit Boston. ... The objection must state whether it applies only to the objector, to a specific subset of the class, or to the entire class, and also state with specificity the grounds for the objection.
Mr. Norkunas has until October 8, 2021, to certify that he is in fact a member of the class (the court notes that he lists a residential address in Fort Lauderdale, Florida).
The city and the lawyers for the four residents who brought the suit would then have a week to respond.
In 2014, in a suit over ADA compliance at two Boston hotels, the Boston Business Journal reported, Norkaunas said he often visits Boston "to visit family, friends and his wife's grave."