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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Blind and Deaf Patron Denied Interpreter Posts Win In Lawsuit

Author Topic: Blind and Deaf Patron Denied Interpreter Posts Win In Lawsuit
Jonathan M. Crist
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 524
From: Hershey, PA, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

 - posted 10-09-2017 04:29 PM      Profile for Jonathan M. Crist   Email Jonathan M. Crist   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Blind, deaf patron denied an interpreter posts win in lawsuit against movie theater chain

Must a Pennsylvania movie theater provide special interpretation services to a patron who is deaf and blind, even if the cost will far exceed the price of a ticket to the film?

Maybe, a federal appeals court has ruled.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit made that call in reviving a lawsuit filed by Paul McGann against Cinemark USA Inc.

McGann, who is represented by the Disability Rights Network of PA, claims Cinemark, a Texas-based theater chain, violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to provide him with a tactile interpreter so he could experience the movie "Gone Girl" in late 2014.

As Judge L. Felipe Restrepo noted in the appeals court ruling, McGann wanted to see the film in a Cinemark theater in the western part of the state because it had already left the theater he normally attended.

His regular theater provided him with a tactile interpreter, who translated movies for him by American Sign Language using touch. His wife did that for McGann until her death in 2001, Restrepo noted.

McGann, who was born deaf and became progressively blind starting at age 5, appealed to the Third Circuit court when a U.S. Western District judge in Pittsburgh found in favor of Cinemark after a bench trial on McGann's suit. The district judge found that McGann's request for a tactile interpreter exceeded the mandates of the ADA to provide the disabled access to entertainment venues.

Cinemark did look into McGann's request for a tactile interpreter and found that two interpreters would be needed to provide the service for McGann at a rate of $50 to $65 each per hour, Restrepo noted.

"Gone Girl" runs for 2 1/2 hours.

The circuit judges sent the case back to the district court for further consideration after concluding that McGann's plea for an interpreter did not exceed the accommodation requirements of the ADA. The U.S. Department of Justice took the same stance in a brief it filed backing McGann in his appeal.

However, Restrepo wrote, the district court must still must consider another defense Cinemark can mount in the case - whether McGann's request placed an "undue burden" on the theater.

Such a defense considers several factors, including the cost of the accommodation requested.

Restrepo cited Cinemark's claim that McGann's was the first such request its Robinson Township theater received and that it hasn't received any other such requests since.

Harrisburg Patriot News Article

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1833
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001

 - posted 10-09-2017 04:45 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hopefully, Cinemark will appeal this further. The decision is not final until the Supreme Court rules (or not).

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Justin Hamaker
Film God

Posts: 2135
From: Lakeport, CA USA
Registered: Jan 2004

 - posted 10-09-2017 04:58 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To me it would seem this stretches the bounds of the ADA beyond anything reasonable.

I am all for making reasonable accommodations, but at some point there needs to be a line beyond which it is unreasonable to expect a business to be required to provide accommodations. Especially when you're getting into situations which are so unusually rare that a business would have no reason to anticipate a need for the accommodation.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2375
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 10-09-2017 05:11 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Did the other theatre that had the tactile interpreter pay for the service, or was it some sort of volunteer project? And is any theatre expected to keep an interpreter, or staff of them, onsite or on call? I don't see how this ends well for anyone.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12295
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 10-09-2017 07:33 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I find the ADA to be a severely flawed act. Words like "reasonable accommodation " are very bad for law. Reasonable is in the perspective of the beholder. I think that there is a huge gap between discrimination and accommodation. I don't think businesses should be compelled to accommodate at their expense.

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Marcel Birgelen
Film God

Posts: 2646
From: Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Registered: Feb 2012

 - posted 10-09-2017 08:08 PM      Profile for Marcel Birgelen   Email Marcel Birgelen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think there is a whole lot of case law what would be reasonable and what not. Unfortunately, there are a lot of judges all over the planet who just like to make an example out of a particular case and who simply ignore case law and common sense.

Tactile interpreters are pretty rare, so it costs a fortune to hire them. Not reasonable is demanding from every business to provide those services, even not if the patrons would be willing to pay for it. Because, have you seen how such an interpreter works? It's pretty intrusive and distracting for all other patrons.

You know, I'm all for supporting "disabled" (is that still a word we're allowed to use?) to enjoy the show, but there are physical limits to what's reasonable and what not.

What's up next? Someone on a life support system wants to see a certain movie. So, should the theater pay for the expenses to allow someone in a hospital bed to be able to roll in?

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