(Photo: Adrian104 via Wikimedia Commons.)
A disability rights group alleging that a Hollywood tour operator denies access to individuals in wheelchairs and electric scooters will get documents that are part of a related U.S. Justice Department investigation.
Starline Tours of Hollywood Inc., the largest sightseeing company in Los Angeles that offers tours of celebrity homes and other Hollywood landmarks, signed a consent decree in 2002 with the Justice Department pledging that any new vehicles in its fleet would be accessible to riders in wheelchairs in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant, which advocates for women who use wheelchairs, and an individual plaintiff, Lillibeth Navarro, sought access to those documents as part of a class action they filed in 2011 on behalf of all Starline customers in wheelchairs and motor scooters.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle of the Central District of California on June 5 ordered both sides to exchange within five days documents they had as part of the Justice Department’s case.
Shaun Paisley, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Kirkland & Ellis, who represents the plaintiffs, and Mohammed Ghods, of the Ghods Law Firm in Santa Ana, Calif., did not return calls for comment.
The Ms. Wheelchair California Pageant, which is the California chapter of the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant, claims its executive director, planning for trips to participate in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, was unable to book a wheelchair accessible tour van from Starline from 2007 to 2010. Navarro, 55, alleged she was unable to book an accessible van from Starline when her sister came for a visit in 2010.
Starline maintained that it has accessible vehicles available, as long as riders reserve the vans 24 to 48 hours in advance.
U.S. District Judge John Walter of the Central District of California dismissed the case in 2012, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed that order on Nov. 26. On March 6, Walter refused to dismiss the class action based on Starline’s consent decree with the Justice Department.
As part of that consent decree, Starline, which did not admit liability or any violation of the ADA, agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty.
Contact Amanda Bronstad at email@example.com.