Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s ADA Claim Against Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Court Dismisses Plaintiff’s ADA Claim Against Mercedes-Benz Superdome

A federal judge of the Eastern District of Louisiana has dismissed the claim of a quadriplegic, who sued the owners and operators of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Rehabilitation Act.

On June 14, 2018, Shelby Bailey filed a complaint, naming SMG, the operator of the Superdome, and Kyle France, in his official capacity as chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Louisiana Stadium & Exposition District, as defendants.

Bailey, who sought declaratory and injunctive relief, relies on an electric wheelchair for mobility. He has been a Saints season ticket holder for over 30 years. Bailey alleged that prior to 2011, his seat was located on a wheelchair accessible raised platform in the 100 Level section of the Superdome. He alleged that in 2011, the defendants began extensive renovations on the Superdome and reconfigured the accessible seating section for patrons with disabilities. As a result of the renovations, the wheelchair accessible seating at the Superdome was moved to other positions where the views are obstructed by barriers and other patrons or players standing during the game, or the seating is not fully accessible by wheelchair, according to the complaint. Further, Bailey alleged that the defendants have been on notice of ongoing accessibility issues for many years. He also alleged that in 2008 the United States Department of Justice conducted an inspection of the Superdome and issued a report detailing violations of ADA regulations.

On December 13, 2019, the court granted in part and denied in part SMG’s motion for judgment on the pleadings. Important to Bailey, it concluded SMG could conceivably be held liable as an operator of the Superdome because SMG controls modification of the Superdome and could cause the Superdome to comply with the ADA. It also found that the plaintiff’s claims for injunctive and declaratory relief were timely because the complaint was filed within one year of SMG allegedly denying the plaintiff “the full and equal enjoyment” of a place of public accommodation.

Bailey responded with a motion on December 31, 2019, arguing that he is entitled to summary judgment as to the following alleged violations of the alteration requirements of the ADA: (1) sightline obstructions at 100 Level, Row 1; (2) sightline obstructions at 100 Level, Row 36; (3) inadequate amount of accessible seating at the 100 Level; (4) making the Superdome less accessible to individuals with mobility-related disabilities; (5) making the 200 Level less accessible; and (6) failure to provide sufficient accessible seating stadium wide.

The court denied summary judgment on some of the arguments, while declaring more evidence was needed on the others.

After considering the arguments, the court wrote in a lengthy opinion that Bailey “has failed to carry his burden of proving that (SMG and France) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Rehabilitation Act. 

“The court is mindful that this result leaves the plaintiff with ‘limited seating choices . . . in less than ideal locations.’ However, the dictates of the ADA do not require otherwise. Thus, the court’s decision is compelled by the preceding findings of fact and conclusions of law, in particular, the structural limitations of the stadium’s design, existing ADA regulations and guidelines, and case law.”

The full opinion can be viewed here: https://casetext.com/case/bailey-v-bd-of-commrs-of-la-stadium-exposition-dist-5

Bailey v. Bd. of Comm’r of the La. Stadium & Exposition Dist.; E.D. La.; CIVIL ACTION CASE NO. 18-5888 8; 9/4/20

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