Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires public accommodations such as hotels, shopping centers, retailers, health care providers, restaurants, and private educational institutions to have facilities that are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
It also requires public accommodations to make their goods and services accessible to individuals with disabilities by making reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures, and providing auxiliary aids and services.
The requirements of the ADA raise complex compliance issues in a fickle legal arena that is further complicated by the issuance of revised regulations by the U.S. Department of Justice. Because this law gives individuals with disabilities, advocacy groups, and the U.S. Department of Justice the right to file enforcement suits, the rulings from these matters create an ever-changing environment for those protected by the ADA.
A Plaintiff in a Title III ADA claim must prove 3 elements in order to prevail: (1) that Plaintiff is disabled within the meaning of the ADA; (2) that the Defendant’s owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodation; and (3) that Plaintiff was denied public accommodation by the Defendant due to his or her disability. (Arizona ex re. Goddard v. Harkins Amusement Enters, Inc., 603 F.3d 666, 670 (9th Cir.2012); see also Dunlap v. Ass’n of Bay Area Gov’ts, 996 F.Supp. 962, 965 (N.D. Cal. 1998); see also, Shultz v. Hemet Youth Pony League, 943 F.Supp. 1222, 1225 (C.D. Cal. 1996).
The ADA defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such an individual.” (42 U.S.C. § 12101(2)). The Justice Department defines an “impairment” as a condition affecting one or more of the bodies’ systems, including the musculoskeletal and neurological systems, and defines “major life activities” to include “functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.” (28 C.F.R. 36.104).
The ADA defines public accommodations in one of 12 categories of facilities for purposes of a Title III action. (42 U.S.C. § 12181). Generally every public place that is open to the general public is included, such as “a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental establishment.” (42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(E). Places of public accommodation built prior to January 26, 1993- are required to remove architectural barriers that deny access to persons with disabilities, “where such removal is readily achievable.” (42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv)). Whether an architectural element at a facility denies full and equal access to persons with disabilities is determined based on the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (“ADAAG”). (Chapman v. Pier I Imports (U.S.), Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 945 (9th Cir.2011). Common examples of “readily achievable” barrier removal required by the ADA include: installing handicapped parking spaces; installing curb cuts in sidewalks; lowering dispensers in restrooms; installing grab bars in toilet stalls; installing ramps; rearranging tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks, and other furniture; repositioning telephones; adding raised markings on elevator control buttons; installing flashing alarm lights; widening doors; and installing accessible door hardware.
The determination of whether Plaintiff was denied access on the basis of disability – is met if there was a violation of applicable accessibility standards. (Chapman v. Pier I Imports (U.S.), Inc., 631 F.3d 939, 945 (9th Cir.2011); Donald v. Cafe Royale, 218 Cal.App.3d 168, 183).
Civil suits may be brought by private individuals who are or have reason to believe they will be subjected to discrimination. Relief for such discrimination is preventatives and includes restraining orders, permanent or temporary injunction and orders to alter facilities to become compliant with the ADA.
The Justice Department may also bring take action to enforce the ADA and may move for the relief as a private individual and the court may award monetary damages to those discriminated against and assess civil penalties up to $50,000 for the first violation and up to $100,000 for subsequent violations.
A plaintiff, other than the United States, my recover reasonable attorney fees and litigation expenses in addition to the injunctive relief granted.
You can find more information on the ADA here https://www.ada.gov/