A lawsuit brought against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim by a wheelchair user denied access to the Club Level at Angel Stadium has been granted class certification, giving momentum to the argument that there should be more accessible seating at the ballpark.
This is probably something all ballpark operators should heed, as it held that handicapped accessibility can be evaluated by section rather than by the entire facility. J. Paul Charlebois says he was denied access to the Club Level at Angel Stadium because the only two wheelchair-accessible seats were sold out. Being on the Club Level was important to Charlebois, who is confined to a wheelchair, as a seat there allows access to in-seat waiter and waitress food and beverage services.
In his lawsuit, Charlebois v. Angel Baseball et al. Case No. SACV 10-0853 DOC (ANx), Charlebois is seeking injunctive relief only and no personal damages. The Angels, according to a press release issued by Charlebois’s attorneys, argued that the motion for class action for class action should be denied and requests should be considered on an individual basis. The court denied the Angels.
As we pointed out, this is potentially a big deal. There is plenty of handicapped seating available throughout Angel Stadium and presumably Charlebois was offered seating elsewhere in the ballpark. The lawsuit argues that the other seating doesn’t matter: what matters is the level of handicapped seating in the section Charlebois was seeking. It’s not a specious argument and used in other ADA-related cases, including a famous case brought against the University of Michigan to provide adequate handicapped access throughout all of Michigan Stadium. The Department of Justice’s disability guidelines are pretty clear: “Whenever more than 300 seats are provided, wheelchair seating locations must be provided in more than one location. This is known as dispersed seating. Wheelchair seating locations must be dispersed throughout all seating areas and provide a choice of admission prices and views comparable to those for the general public.”
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