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Daubert v. Lindsay Unified School District

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 25, 2014

TIMOTHY S. DAUBERT, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
LINDSAY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellee

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California: May 15, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. D.C. No. 1:09-cv-01463-GSA. Gary S. Austin, Magistrate Judge, Presiding.

Americans with Disabilities Act

Affirming the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Lindsay Unified School District, the panel held that Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act does not require a public entity to structurally alter public seating at a high school football field, where the seating was constructed prior to the ADA's enactment, and the school district provides program access to individuals who use wheelchairs.

Russell Handy (argued), Center for Disability Access, San Diego, California, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Michael J. Maurer (argued), McCormick Kabot Jenner & Lew, Visalia, California, for Defendant-Appellee.

Before: M. Margaret McKeown and Milan D. Smith, Jr., Circuit Judges, and Susan R. Bolton, District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr.

OPINION

Page 983

M. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

In this appeal, we consider whether Title II of the Americans with Disabilities

Page 984

Act, 42 U.S.C. § § 12131-12165 (ADA), requires a public entity to structurally alter public seating at a high school football field, where the seating was constructed prior to the ADA's enactment, and the school district provides program access to individuals who use wheelchairs. We conclude that Title II imposes no such burden, and we therefore affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to Defendant-Appellee Lindsay Unified School District (School District).

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Lindsay, California is a small town located in the Visalia-Porterville Metropolitan area. The town has a total area of 2.6 miles and a population of under 12,000. Approximately 1,100 students attend Lindsay High School.

Lindsay High School has a football field that is typical of those found at many small high schools. It consists of a turf field surrounded by a chain link fence. Beyond the fence lies a single set of metal bleachers on the south side of the field. The bleachers are small, spanning from one thirty-yard line to the other, and they are surrounded by pavement on all sides. The field does not offer any other public seating.

The bleachers at the Lindsay High School football field were constructed in 1971, and have never been reconstructed or altered. The bleachers are not wheelchair accessible. They are only accessible by stairs, and there is no clear floor space within the bleachers where a wheelchair may rest.

While the south-side bleachers are not wheelchair accessible, the School District designates three specific locations from which persons who use wheelchairs are able to watch football games.[1] The School District also permits spectators who use wheelchairs to sit on the north and south sides of the field, on the paved area, at any point along the fence.

Spectators who use wheelchairs regularly attend Lindsay High School football games. According to both parties, such spectators are able to attend games with companions, and enjoy unobstructed views from the following locations: (1) in front of the south-side bleachers between the thirty and forty-yard lines; (2) the southwest corner of the field, and (3) the end zone on the east side of the field. The parties also agree that the end zone on the ...


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