Gathright-Dietrich v. Atlanta Landmarks, Inc.

435 F. Supp. 2d 1217 (2005)

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Gathright-Dietrich v. Atlanta Landmarks, Inc.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
435 F. Supp. 2d 1217 (2005)

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Facts

Margo Gathright-Dietrich and Bonnie Bonham (plaintiffs) were wheelchair-using patrons of the arts. Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham filed suit against Atlanta Landmarks, Inc. (defendant), the owner of the historic Fox Theater, claiming that wheelchair patrons were denied access to the theater comparable to that of nonwheelchair patrons, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). The ADA prohibited discrimination against individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation. Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham asserted that, compared with the Justice Department’s Standards for Accessible Design (the standards), the number of seats in the theater was inadequate. Specifically, Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham claimed that the theater would have to add 27 to 30 wheelchair-accessible seats and modify an additional 36 aisle seats to comply with the standards. Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham did not provide any evidence on the cost of adding additional wheelchair seating. Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham also argued that the restrooms for wheelchair patrons did not meet the standards’ technical requirements or have the same ambiance as the restrooms for nonwheelchair patrons, and the concessions facilities provided for wheelchair patrons were not comparable to the concessions facilities for nonwheelchair patrons. Under the ADA, failure to remove architectural barriers in facilities where removal was readily achievable constituted discrimination. Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham had the initial burden of production to show that a barrier existed and that the barrier was removable. Atlanta Landmarks filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that Gathright-Dietrich and Bonham failed to meet their burden of production.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Duffy, J.)

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