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United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, Fourth Division
September 30, 1997, Decided
Civil No. 4-96-995
[*1264] MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION [**2] TO DISMISS
The United States filed this action against Ellerbe Becket, Inc., an architectural firm, for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Complaint alleges that Ellerbe has engaged in a pattern or practice of designing new sports arenas and stadiums across the United States that fail to comply with Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation regarding lines of sight for disabled patrons.
The United States alleges that Ellerbe has repeatedly designed arenas and stadiums with wheelchair seating locations that do not provide wheelchair users with lines of sight to the floor or field that are comparable to those of other spectators. The United States seeks civil penalties and an injunction compelling Ellerbe to comply with the requirements of the ADA in designing arenas and stadiums in the future.
This matter is before the Court on Ellerbe's motion to dismiss. Ellerbe argues that architects are excluded from liability under Title III of the ADA as a matter of law. Ellerbe also objects to this Court's consideration of the United States' claims on a variety of other grounds, including standing, comity, the "first-filed" [**3] rule, and an allegation that the government is forum-shopping. The Court first considers these alleged bars to its consideration of the merits of this action, and then turns to the substantive motion to dismiss.
I. NON-MERITS DEFENSES
Ellerbe argues that the United States lacks standing because neither injunctive relief nor civil penalties are appropriate in this case and there is therefore no likelihood that the claimed injury will be redressed by a favorable decision for plaintiff on the merits. Ellerbe argues that a civil penalty would be inappropriate in this case because there is no evidence that Ellerbe willfully, intentionally or recklessly disregarded the law. The United States disputes this claim, citing deposition testimony it claims demonstrates Ellerbe's willful or intentional disregard for the law. The existence and significance of Ellerbe's "good faith," which the Court must consider in determining whether to assess a civil penalty, is not a matter appropriate for resolution on a motion to dismiss. Ellerbe argues that injunctive relief is not appropriate in this case as it would not serve a remedial purpose, apparently claiming that injunctive [**4] relief would be remedial only if it bound all design professionals. Ellerbe provides no support for this assertion. The Court will face this issue only in the event it finds that architects are subject to liability under the ADA and the United States proves that Ellerbe has engaged in a pattern or practice of designing noncompliant facilities. It would be premature at this juncture to determine whether injunctive relief would serve a hypothetical remedial purpose. 1 The Court finds Ellerbe's standing arguments unpersuasive.
B. Other defenses
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
976 F. Supp. 1262 *; 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15549 **; 7 Am. Disabilities Cas. (BNA) 1719
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff, v. ELLERBE BECKET, INC., Defendant.
Disposition: [**1] Defendants' motion to dismiss Complaint [Docket No. 19] DENIED.
line of sight, arenas, wheelchair, Disabilities, public accommodation, entities, commercial facilities, motion to dismiss, facilities, construct, seating, argues, comparable, parties, subject to liability, new construction, civil penalty, deference, stadiums, lawsuit, forum-shopping, injunctive, regulation, spectators, violations
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Reviewability of Lower Court Decisions, Adverse Determinations, Civil Rights Law, Protection of Disabled Persons, Americans With Disabilities Act, Scope, Governments, Federal Government, Claims By & Against, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Responses, General Overview, Motions to Dismiss, Accommodations, Protection of Rights, Legislative Intent, Public Facilities, Business & Corporate Compliance, Public Health & Welfare Law, Housing & Public Buildings, Accessibility, Construction & Design, Transportation Law, Private Vehicles, Wheelchairs, Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, Public Accommodations, Contracts Law, Personal Property, Personalty Leases, Types of Contracts, Lease Agreements, Legislation, Interpretation