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Advocacy Under the ADA
July 16, 2020 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm EDT
Facilitated by Susan Tachau with Michael Anderson, Mark Anderson, and Steve Gold
Plaintiffs initiated this suit under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12181 et seq., and the corresponding federal regulations, 28 C.F.R. § 36.101 et seq., based on Defendant The Franklin Institute’s alleged failure to grant disabled persons full and equal access to its facilities. Specifically, Plaintiffs argue that The Franklin Institute discriminates against people with disabilities by charging an additional and separate admission fee to government-funded personal care attendants, whose sole purpose is to provide severely disabled individuals with the opportunity to fully participate in the services offered by the museum. Plaintiffs’ claims encompass fees for general admission as well as admission to Defendant’s IMAX Theater and Special Exhibitions.
A person eligible for a personal care attendant is someone who requires assistance with activities of daily living virtually around the clock. For reasons that still remain opaque to me, at the outset of this litigation, The Franklin Institute insisted that charging attendants for admission, thereby effectively doubling the cost of admission for this class of disabled citizens, did not even raise a colorable issue under the ADA. Defendant’s position on its obligations under the Act, and its characterization of its previous practices, have evolved significantly over the course of this litigation. Its principal position now seems to be that there is no need for the Court to rule. I have little difficulty in concluding that Plaintiffs remain entitled to injunctive relief requiring modifications that will permanently allow full and meaningful access to The Franklin Institute.