Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Stadium-style seating in theaters has improved the moviegoing experience for many. But some disabled patrons are not applauding. At its private conference today, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to grant review to Regal Cinemas Inc. v Stewmon, No. 03-641, a case pitting disabled theatergoers and the Justice Department against the owners and operators of movie theaters. At issue in Regal is whether stadium seating plans in movie theaters violate federal accessibility guidelines developed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires places of public accommodation to “provide people with physical disabilities … lines of sight comparable to those for members of the general public.” The case is one of many that will be considered for a place on the Court’s docket for argument and decision next term. In Regal, Kathy Stewmon, Tina Smith and Kathleen Braddy, all wheelchair-bound, brought suit against two companies that own and operate movie theaters in Oregon. The women claimed that the wheelchair-accessible seats in the front rows, which provided a vertical viewing angle that was significantly sharper than in the rest of the theaters, violate the ADA. The plaintiffs say they experienced nausea, headaches and blurry vision as a result of the sharp viewing angle. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, citing Lara v. Cinemark USA Inc., a decision of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that favored theaters in a similar lawsuit. A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, stating that the central goal of the ADA is to ensure that people with disabilities have access to “full and equal enjoyment … of any place of public accommodation,” and that disabled individuals are entitled to the same comfortable viewing angles that non-disabled viewers enjoy. Judge Betty Fletcher wrote for the panel, joined by Judge M. Margaret McKeown. Judge Andrew Kleinfeld dissented. The Regal defendants urge the Court to resolve the circuit split over the issue, but they aren’t alone in their dissatisfaction with the 9th Circuit ruling. Cinemark, which owns and operates 2,337 movie theaters in 33 states, says in an amicus brief, “If this decision is permitted to stand, not one public facility is safe from post-construction second-guessing or ruinous retrofitting liabilities.” In a brief supporting the disabled moviegoers, Solicitor General Theodore Olson says the law and regulations prohibit movie theaters from “relegating all wheelchair users to the worst seats in the very front of the theater and excluding them entirely from the benefits of modern stadium-style theater designs.”

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.