Movie Theaters Must Offer Stadium Seating To Wheelchair Users, Judge
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 4, 2003
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--A federal judge on Tuesday ordered two large movie theater chains to offer seating in the more desirable "stadium" sections to people who use wheelchairs, the Associated Press reported.
Judge William G. Young ruled that National Amusements Inc. and Hoyts Cinemas Corp. violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by making wheelchair users sit in the lower seating areas or in aisles on the edge of the more popular stadium-style seats. Young said this was discriminatory because it provided "an inferior angle to the stadium seats."
Young's order does not force the film chains to change their seating immediately, but only when they do other renovations. The companies may still limit the amount of accessible seating, as long as it is not separated from the stadium section.
The U.S. attorney's office sued the chains in 2000, claiming their theaters denied equal access to patrons that use wheelchairs, by placing them in some of the worst seating areas of the movie houses.
Stan Eichner, litigation director of the Disability Law Center, praised Young's ruling.
"For too long, people with disabilities have been stuck in the least desirable sections of theaters, stadiums and ballparks," Stan Eichner, director of the Disability Law Center, told The Boston Globe. "Judge Young's decision is an important reaffirmation that integrated quality seating is an important value under the ADA."