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The Braille Monitor,  July 2001 Edition
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Settlement Agreement

                                                                      

            From the Editor: The following summary of a settlement agreement is being published in the Braille Monitor because doing so was required by the judge to whom the case was assigned. The National Federation of the Blind was not a plaintiff in this case, but the judge clearly decided that the notice would be of interest to blind people and that the Braille Monitor was the most useful vehicle for doing the job. Here is the text of the summary:

                                                                      

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

                                                                      

Case No. 00‑7233‑Civ‑Moreno

                                                                      

ACCESS NOW, INC., and EDWARD RESNICK, Plaintiffs, vs.

CUNARD LINE LIMITED, CO., and CARNIVAL CORPORATION, Defendants.

                                                                      

            Notice of Class Certification, Proposed Settlement, and Fairness Hearing

                                                                      

TO:      ALL PERSONS WHO HAVE BEEN OR WILL QUALIFY AS HAVING A "DISABILITY," AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED BY 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2), AND WHO HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE A GUEST ON OR OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN OR WILL BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THE DESIGN OR CONSTRUCTION OF OR THE POLICIES, PRACTICES, OR PROCEDURES RELATING TO TICKET SALES, PHYSICAL ACCESSIBILITY, OR THE PROVISION OF AUXILIARY AIDES AND SERVICES FOR THE FOLLOWING SHIPS:

Name

            (1)       M/V Carnival Destiny

            (2)       M/V Ecstasy

            (3)       M/V Imagination

            (4)       M/V Jubilee

            (5)       M/V Paradise

            (6)       M/V Sensation

            (7)       M/V Fantasy

            (8)       M/V Celebration

            (9)       M/V Carnival Triumph

            (10)     M/V Carnival Victory

            (11)     M/V Elation

            (12)     M/V Inspiration

            (13)     M/V Fascination

            (14)     M/V Spirit

            (15)     M/V Holiday

            (16)     Other Spirit Class or Conquest Class ships

                                                                      

            This notice is given pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e). A Fairness Hearing on the matters hereinafter set forth is scheduled before the Honorable Federico Moreno, United States District Judge, in Miami‑Dade County, Florida on the 25th day of September, 2001, at 2:30 p.m. at 99 N.E. 4th Street, Suite 1061, Miami, Florida 33128.

            You may be a member of the class of persons defined above ("Settlement Class") covered by a proposed settlement of this class action. This notice identifies the persons and entities covered by the proposed Settlement Agreement, describes the case and the benefits of the proposed Settlement Agreement, advises the Settlement Agreement class members that the Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the proposed Settlement Agreement and explains how you may object to the Settlement Agreement. This notice describes your legal rights in connection with the hearing and this lawsuit. All settlement class members who do not timely object will be bound by the resulting orders. PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. The following recitation does not constitute findings or determinations of the Court.

I.          Description of the Litigation

            This is an action in which the plaintiffs claim that Carnival Corporation ("Carnival") owns and operates the cruise ships listed above. The plaintiffs further claim that the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq., requires modifications to those ships and other relief. Plaintiff Access Now, Inc. is a Florida not‑for‑profit corporation whose membership consists of individuals with disabilities recognized by the ADA. The purpose of Access Now, Inc. is to represent individuals with disabilities through enforcement of the ADA and standards promulgated pursuant to the ADA. Edward Resnick is president of Access Now and is an individual with a disability under the ADA. The sole purpose of the plaintiffs in bringing this litigation is to require the defendants to bring their ships into compliance with the ADA and to recover the costs and attorneys' fees that they have incurred in bringing this action. No monetary damages of any sort are sought or are permitted for private litigants under Title III of the ADA. Carnival admits that it owns and operates the cruise ships that are the subject of this action, but denies that Title III of the ADA requires modification of those ships or any other relief. Carnival also, however, desires to enhance the accessibility of its ships for individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA, and to avoid litigation in which plaintiffs claim that defendant's ships are not accessible to individuals with disabilities recognized under the ADA. Plaintiffs and Carnival have reached a settlement agreement for the purpose of satisfying the goals of both the plaintiffs and Carnival. A part of the settlement provides that this action will be maintained by the plaintiffs on behalf of all of the members of the class to which this notice is addressed.

                                                                      

II.          Description of the Settlement Agreement

            The parties have agreed for settlement purposes, and to avoid the expense and uncertainty of continued litigation relating to the disputed claims, to the terms of the proposed Settlement Agreement, as summarized below.

            Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Carnival has agreed that it will make substantial modifications to its ships and to its policies and practices relating to those ships in order to enhance their accessibility to individuals with disabilities. The plaintiffs have agreed that they will not seek further modifications of the ships that are the subject of this action. The plaintiffs and Carnival have further agreed that future ships and alterations to existing or future ships also may be governed by this agreement. The agreement provides a mechanism by which the plaintiffs may inspect the agreed modifications upon their completion and resolve any disputes that might arise with respect to whether the modifications conform to the agreement. Class counsel's fees and costs will be paid by Carnival, not by class members. If the Court approves the proposed settlement, you will be forever barred from contesting the fairness, reasonableness, or adequacy of the Settlement Agreement, or from pursuing the claims against Carnival as identified in the Settlement Agreement. Counsel for the plaintiffs believe that the proposed Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.

                                                                      

III.         The Fairness Hearing

            At the Fairness Hearing, the Court will: (1) Review and determine the merits of any objection to the settlement.

(2) Determine whether to approve the settlement as fair and reasonable, adequate, and in the best interest of the settlement class. (3) Grant a fee award to class counsel. (4) Determine whether to enter a final judgment approving settlement. (5) Determine such other matters as may be appropriate. Any person or entity that objects to the Settlement Agreement, or any of its terms, or to the judgment to be entered in the action, or to any other matter to be considered at the Fairness Hearing may appear in person or through such person or entity's attorney at the hearing and present any evidence or argument that may be proper and relevant; provided, however, that no person other than Access Now, Inc., Edward Resnick, and Carnival Corporation shall be heard and no papers, briefs, pleadings, or other documents submitted by any person shall be received and considered by the Court, unless no later than thirty days prior to the date of the Fairness Hearing, such person files with the Court and serves upon all counsel listed below (a) a written notice of intention to appear; (b) a written statement of such person's objection to any matters before the Court; and (c) the grounds therefore or the reasons for such person's desire to appear and to be heard, together with all papers, briefs, or other documents that such person desires the Court to consider.

                                                                      

                                                                                    Matthew W. Dietz
                                                                                    Attorney for Access Now, Inc.
                                                                                    & Edward Resnick
                                                                                    446 Majorca Avenue
                                                                                    Coral Gables, Florida 33134

                                                                                    Thomas R. Julin
                                                                                    Hunton & Williams
                                                                                    Attorneys for Carnival Corporation
                                                                                    111 Brickell Avenue ‑ Suite 2500
                                                                                    Miami, Florida 33131

 

 

      

            No person shall be entitled to object to approval of the settlement, or to any of its terms, or to the judgment to be entered in the action, or otherwise to be heard, without first filing and serving written objections as described above. Any person who fails to object in the manner prescribed above shall be deemed to have waived such objection, and will be forever barred from raising such objection in this action. IF YOU DO NOT OPPOSE THIS SETTLEMENT, YOU NEED NOT APPEAR OR FILE ANYTHING IN WRITING.

IV.        For More Information

            This Notice is only a summary, the full settlement agreement, the amended complaint, and other documents in the case may be inspected and copied at the Clerk's Office, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Federal Courthouse Square, 301 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33128.

            Done and ordered in chambers at Miami, Florida this 29th day of May, 2001.

                                                                      

                                                                                              Federico Moreno
                                                                                              United States District Judge

Copies furnished to: Matthew Dietz, Esq.; Marty Steinberg, Esq.; and Carolyn Gray, Esq.

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