Not what you're
looking for? Try an advanced search.
Buy This Entire Record For
BALL v. AMC ENTERTAINMENT
February 24, 2003
KEVIN BALL, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
AMC ENTERTAINMENT, INC. ET AL. DEFENDANTS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler, District Judge
Plaintiffs are deaf and hard of hearing individuals residing in the
Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.*fn1 They bring this class action
against movie theater operators AMC Entertainment, Inc. ("AMC"), and
Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. ("Loews"). Plaintiffs allege that
Defendants violate the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA" or "Act"),
42 U.S.C. § 12101, et seq. (1992), by failing to provide them with
the reasonable accommodations necessary for full and equal enjoyment of
Defendants' services through implementation of captioning and other
interpretive aids.*fn2 This matter is before the Court on Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the Motion,
Opposition, Reply, submission of Amicus Curiae, the January 22, 2003,
Motions Hearing, and the entire record herein, for the reasons discussed
below, Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.
In 1990, Congress enacted the ADA to remedy the "serious and pervasive"
problem of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
42 U.S.C. § 12101(a)(2). After thoroughly investigating the
problem, Congress concluded that there was a "compelling need to provide a
clear and comprehensive national mandate" to eliminate discrimination
against disabled individuals and integrate them "into the economic and
social mainstream of American life." S. Rep. No. 101-116, at 20 (1989);
H.R. Rep. No. 101-485, at 50 (1990). To effectuate its sweeping
purpose, the ADA forbids discrimination against disabled individuals in
major areas of public life, including public accommodations.*fn4
42 U.S.C. § 12181-12189 ("Title III"). Title III of the ADA states
No individual shall be discriminated against on the
basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of
the goods, services, facilities, privileges,
advantages, or accommodations of any place of public
accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or
leases to), or operates a place of public
Plaintiffs, who have a disability recognized by the ADA,*fn6 argue
that Defendants' failure to provide reasonable accommodations for deaf
patrons desiring to see first run movies*fn7 shown in Defendants' movie
theaters violates the ADA. Because Defendants' movie theaters are places
of public accommodation under the ADA,*fn8 Plaintiffs argue that such
accommodations are required by the Act and would not result in a change
of Defendants' services or an undue burden upon Defendants. Plaintiffs'
complaint seeks an injunction requiring Defendants "to implement the
captions and other interpretive aids" necessary to comply with the ADA,
which "includes but is not limited to: (a) open captioning devices and
(b) closed captioning devices, such as rear window captioning." Compl.
at p. 7 and ¶ 15.*fn9
Summary judgment will be granted when the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with any
affidavits or declarations, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). A fact is "material" if it might
affect the outcome of the action under the governing law. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc. 477 U.S. 242 (1986). The party seeking summary
judgment bears the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a
genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322 (1986). In determining whether the movant has met this burden, a
court must consider all factual inferences in the light most favorable
to the non-moving party. McKinney v. Dole, 765 F.2d 1129, 1135 (D.C. Cir.
Defendants argue that the ADA and its implementing regulations do not
require Defendants' movie theaters to show movies captioned using rear
window captioning ("RWC")*fn10 because: 1) requiring exhibition of
captioned movies is explicitly precluded by the Act and DOJ regulations,
2) exhibition of RWC-compatible movies would change the nature or mix of
the goods or services Defendants offer,*fn11 and 3) installation of RWC
equipment in Defendants' movie theaters would be unduly burdensome. In
making these arguments, Defendants rely primarily on a Department of
Justice ("DOJ") regulation for implementing Title III, which states that
A public accommodation shall take those steps that may
be necessary to ensure that no individual with a
disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or
otherwise treated differently than other individuals
because of the absence of auxiliary aids and
services, unless the public accommodation can
demonstrate that taking those steps would
fundamentally alter the nature of the goods,
services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or
accommodations being offered or would result in an
undue burden, i.e., significant difficulty or
28 C.F.R. § 36.303(a) (1992) (emphasis added). In opposing
Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment,*fn12 Plaintiffs argue that
cost-efficient technology exists to allow deaf persons to attend first
run movies without fundamentally altering the nature of ...
Buy This Entire Record For