For: Duane Reade Holdings, Inc.
Cara O’Brien/Lauren Levine
Press: Nicole Vasilescu
For: New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and Disabled in Action
Marsha Gordon, LCG Communications:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DISABLED IN ACTION AND DUANE READE REACH AGREEMENT ON ACCESSIBILITY OF STORES TO PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
New York, New York, April 19, 2006 – Disabled in Action (DIA) of Metropolitan New York, several individual plaintiffs and Duane Reade Holdings, Inc. today announced that they have reached an agreement on measures to ensure that Duane Reade stores are accessible to people with mobility disabilities. The agreement is the culmination of five years of negotiations and legal action brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and related accessibility laws.
"This is an historic agreement that commits one of New York City’s most prominent retailers to ensuring that people with disabilities have the same access to goods and services enjoyed by other New Yorkers," said Jean Ryan, a DIA member and named plaintiff.
"We are delighted by Duane Reade’s commitment to accessibility and hope that this agreement will set a standard for retail stores throughout New York City."
"As Duane Reade’s commitment to convenience is what has made us and keeps us the leading drug store chain in metropolitan New York, we are pleased to have reached an agreement with Disabled in Action to ensure that all our valued customers can conveniently access our many stores," stated Richard W. Dreiling, President and Chief Executive Officer of Duane Reade Holdings, Inc.
"In addition, resolving this important matter is consistent with our initiatives to reduce the overall amount of litigation facing our business, thereby enabling management to focus on improving the customer shopping experience at Duane Reade and strengthening the foundation for its future growth."
Marianne Engelman Lado, general counsel of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), which represents the plaintiffs, stated,
"We think this is a win-win situation and are pleased that Duane Reade recognizes that ensuring accessibility is not only good policy, it is good business." Added William McCabe, lead counsel from Ropes & Gray, LLP, one of the firms also representing Disabled in Action,
"Agreements like this are important because, even though it has been nearly 14 years since the ADA became effective, our clients still find that they are often denied the access to stores and other public accommodations mandated by the Act."
As a result of this agreement, Duane Reade will begin rolling out a number of steps to ensure its stores are accessible to people in wheelchairs including:
modifying counters, entryways and other physical features in accessible manners;
placing temporary displays of products (such as those that contain batteries and film) in a manner that keeps aisles accessible;
quickly shelving or storing merchandise placed in store aisles following delivery to ensure that aisles are accessible; and
training employees on the accessibility laws and regulations and on the benefits of providing an accessible shopping environment.
Founded in 1970, DIA is a civil rights organization committed to ending discrimination against people with disabilities. DIA and ten individual co-plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), a non profit, civil rights law firm striving for social justice, and the law firms of Ropes & Gray, LLP and Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale, and Dorr, LLP.
Founded in 1960, Duane Reade is the largest drug store chain in the metropolitan New York City area, offering a wide variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, health and beauty care items, cosmetics, greeting cards, photo supplies and photofinishing. As of December 31, 2005, the Company operated 251 stores.
Except for historical information contained herein, the statements in this release and the accompanying discussion on the earnings conference call are forward-looking and made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In addition, this document may contain statements, estimates or projections that constitute
"forward-looking" statements as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause the Company’s actual results in future periods to differ materially from forecasted or expected results. Those risks include, among other things, the competitive environment in the drug store industry in general and in the New York metropolitan area, the ability to open and operate new stores, the continued efforts by payers and government agencies to reduce prescription reimbursement rates and prescription drug benefits, the strength of the economy in general, the economic conditions in the New York greater metropolitan area, changes in federal and state laws and regulations, including the potential impact of changes in regulations surrounding the importation of pharmaceuticals from foreign countries and changes in laws governing minimum wage requirements, changes in the Company’s operating strategy, capital expenditure plans or development plans, the Company’s ability to attract, hire and retain qualified pharmacy and other personnel, the Company’s significant indebtedness, labor disturbances, the continued impact of, or new occurrences of, terrorist attacks in the New York greater metropolitan area and any actions that may be taken in response, demographic changes, the Company’s ability to limit fraud and shrink, and recalls of pharmaceutical products due to health concerns or other reasons. Those and other risks are more fully described in Duane Reade’s reports filed with the SEC from time to time, including its annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made. Except to the extent otherwise required by federal securities laws, we do not undertake to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements.