ADA Compliance Takes Strange Twists

In Here's the Spin, News by David D. Good

In December 2000, the San Diego City Council approved a deal where they would compensate the Chargers for any seats lost at Qualcomm Stadium in making the stadium ADA compliant. In improvements totalling some $78 million, nearly 2000 seats were restricted, obscured or eliminated in installing ramps and modified seating areas. Using a complex formula, each week the Chargers determine how many seats they are permitted to charge to the city, but that can never exceed 673 seats.

So far this year, San Diego has paid some $5.6 million to the Chargers for seats that don’t exist. Taxpayer dollars that could be funding a school or a fire station are going into the paychecks of football players.

Mayor Dick Murphy said through a spokesman, “I only recently became aware that the ADA settlement would have an impact on the seating capacity at the stadium.”


A Federal Court in Los Angeles ruled November 20, 2002 that AMC Entertainment, Inc. and American Multi-Cinema, Inc. (AMC) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act in offering patrons inferior seating in the front row of “stadium seating” theaters. The Department of Justice claims that these theaters deny the disabled equal access to all goods and services. Issues include “line of sight” seating, companion seating, concession counters, ramps and parking.

U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said that while the theaters, advertised to “virtually suspend the moviegoer in front of the wall-to-wall screen,” wheelchair patrons were forced to use seating closest to the screen, offering poor views and excluding them from the rest of the audience. AMC owns and operates more than 80 stadium-style movie complexes nationwide.

The City of Sacramento is pitted against the disabled, claiming that modifying sidewalks to be ADA-compliant is cost-prohibitive. They have agreed to install curb cuts, but apparently the cost of moving utility poles, benches and mailboxes has the city in an uproar. They are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling requiring that sidewalks be accessible.

Nine plaintiffs sued the city in 1999, saying Sacramento was not ADA compliant. Jeffery Evans, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says its not unusual for people in wheelchairs to have to take alternate routes due to obstructions on city sidewalks. “They are putting a dollar amount on our civil rights!” he said. “We are 10 percent of the population, and it’s going to be growing.”


On October 9, 2002, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that alcoholism was not considered a disability under the rules of the ADA.

George Bailey, a paper handler for Georgia-Pacific, was convicted of a DUI offense and sentenced to four months incarceration. His attorney petitioned for him to participate in a work release program, but Georgia-Pacific turned him down.

After he used up three months of sick leave and vacation, he was terminated on the fourth month of incarceration. Bailey sued Georgia-Pacific, claiming discrimination under the rules of the ADA.

The First Circuit, while recognizing alcoholism is indeed an impairment, said he was not restricted from participating in a broad range of jobs, and any inability was short term in nature.