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Supreme Court Asks Justice Department For Advice On Accessible Theater Suit
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 12, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked the Department of Justice for guidance on whether the Americans with Disabilities Act requires stadium-style movie theaters to provide accessible seating at varied locations throughout their theaters.

The case involves three Oregon women who sued Regal Entertainment Group claiming its Regal Cinemas failed to comply with the ADA by putting wheelchair seating in the front rows. A federal judge had ruled in favor of Regal, saying that the 1990 anti-discrimination law only required theater patrons to have a clear view of the screen.

A U.S. Court of Appeals later overturned that ruling, saying that the first row seating areas are "objectively uncomfortable" because they require wheelchair users to "crane their necks and twist their bodies in order to see the screen." The appeals court said that theaters must provide wheelchair accessible seating in locations giving the same viewing angles offered to all other theater-goers.

A decision by the high court could affect thousands of movie theaters across the country that have been built since 1995 with stadium seating, which places most of the seats on stepped risers rather than on sloped floors.

The Justice Department was asked whether the Supreme Court should hear Regal's appeal. The Department is expected to file its opinion within the next several months.

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