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9th Circuit Overturns Decision over Baseball Wheelchair Accessibility


Wheelchair-bound baseball fans brought a federal lawsuit against T-Mobile Park in Seattle, WA, alleging that the stadium violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit alleges that the sightlines of spectators using wheelchairs were more likely to be obstructed than spectators who were not using wheelchairs and that there was insufficient wheelchair seating throughout the park. During a court trial in December 2019, the trial judge rejected the plaintiffs’ sightlines claim and ruled that T-Mobile Park had complied with the ADA.

A 9th Circuit panel reversed the ruling, holding that trial court had failed to fully analyze the stadium-related guidelines relating to ADA compliance. Judge Forrest wrote for the majority, finding that the trial judge had only considered whether a person in a wheelchair could see over the heads and shoulders of those immediately in front of them. However, the trial court failed to consider whether a person in a wheelchair could see over the heads of whoever was in front of them by at least two rows.

T-Mobile Park SeattleWhy Does the ADA Require Disability Accommodations?

Disability accommodations are legally required when requested and reasonable. Disabled persons often cannot participate in many social functions through no fault of their own. Rather than exclude these individuals from society, our laws place the burden on businesses to make their lives more bearable.

The accommodation itself may differ depending upon the disability and the business involved. For instance, an employee with a back problem in a retail store may request something as simple as being about to sit or stand when on the sales floor. A chronically ill employee in an office environment may request to work remotely; this accommodation has become especially popular with the Covid-19 pandemic. Customers may similarly make reasonable accommodation requests.

The limitations to these requests are that the person must have a disability and the request must be reasonable for the business to accommodate. While a service dog is typically considered a reasonable accommodation, it might not be as reasonable if the business owner is severally allergic to animals and must be in the same room as the animal at most owners.

What Kind of Disability Accommodations Do Wheelchair Users Need?

Wheelchair accommodation is a common request made of businesses from both employees and customers. Typical wheelchair user accommodations may include the following:

  • Making wider spaces in hallways, restrooms, and workspaces for the wheelchair to move through or fit;
  • Installing a ramp so that the wheelchair can move up or down elevations;
  • Disabled parking spaces close to the building
  • Lower countertops and service windows

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with ADA Issues?

You may be entitled to an accommodation if you have a disability. You should consult with a skilled discrimination lawyer if you have a question about discrimination and disability law. An attorney can help you determine your rights and represent you in court.


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