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Disability Rights Group, Duane Reade Reach Agreement on Store Accessibility

NEW YORK -- Disabled in Action (DIA) of Metropolitan New York, several individual plaintiffs, and Duane Reade Holdings, Inc. said yesterday that they have come to an agreement on measures to make sure that Duane Reade stores are accessible to people with mobility disabilities, including wheelchair users. The agreement is the culmination of five years of negotiations and legal action brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and similar accessibility laws.

"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," noted Duane Reade president and c.e.o. Richard W. Dreiling. "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."

"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 DIA member Jean Ryan, a named plaintiff. "We...hope that this agreement will set a standard for retail stores throughout New York City."

Added William McCabe, lead counsel from Ropes & Gray, LLP, one of the firms representing DIA, "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 the agreement, Duane Reade will begin to make the following changes to its stores:

--Modifying counters, entryways, and other physical features to make them more accessible;

--Placing temporary displays of products (such as those that contain batteries and film) in a manner that keeps aisles clear;

--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 as well as on the benefits of providing an accessible shopping environment.

Duane Reade currently operates over 250 stores.
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