Cinemark Must Change Theater Seating Under Settlement
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 18, 2004
WASHINGTON, DC--Four years ago this week, the Oakland-based Disability Rights Advocates gave one of its annual "Turkey" awards to the movie theater chain Cinemark USA, Inc. for placing its accessible seating in the first rows of its theaters, forcing patrons with disabilities to crane their necks to view the screen.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Cinemark has agreed to move its wheelchair accessible seating further back in more than 100 of its existing auditoriums, to settle a discrimination lawsuit.
The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in March 1999 in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio, after receiving several complaints from movie-goers with disabilities, according to a DOJ press release. The Department determined that Cinemark had violated the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act by not providing accessible seating with line-of-sight similar to that for movie-goers without disabilities.
Under the settlement, all future Cinemark theaters will be designed with wheelchair seating near the middle of the auditoriums. Wheelchair spaces and companion seats will be added to dozens of Cinemark venues across the country, allowing patrons with wheelchairs to sit with unobstructed views next to their companions.
"The promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act was to welcome people with disabilities into American daily life," said R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The theaters at issue in this case came up short on that promise."
"We are pleased that Cinemark has decided to resolve this litigation and to provide the accommodations necessary for its patrons with disabilities, and trust that this settlement will light the path for other theater owners."
Disability Rights Advocates