United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
CLARK LANDIS, ROBERT BARKER, GRADY THOMPSON, and KAYLA BROWN, Plaintiffs,
WASHINGTON STATE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STADIUM PUBLIC FACILITIES DISTRICT, BASEBALL OF SEATTLE, INC., a Washington Corporation, MARINERS BASEBALL, LLC, a Washington limited liability Company, and THE BASEBALL CLUB OF SEATTLE, LLLP, a Washington limited liability limited partnership, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter involves a challenge to the accessibility of T-Mobile
Field,  home of Major League Baseball's
Seattle Mariners. Plaintiffs Landis, Barker, Thompson, and
Brown (collectively “Plaintiffs”) are lifelong
baseball fans who, because of mobility disabilities, are
confined to wheelchairs. They bring the current action
seeking (1) declaratory relief that T-Mobile Field does not
comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.,
and its subsequently promulgated regulations and standards,
and (2) injunctive relief ordering that T-Mobile Field be
brought into compliance. Their grievances include a list of
noncompliant elements, from insufficient sightline to the
playing field to wheelchair spaces that do not comply with
depth requirements, all of which will be outlined below.
the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
Dkt. No. 19. Defendants Washington State Major League
Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District, Baseball of
Seattle, Inc., Mariners Baseball, LLC, and The Baseball Club
of Seattle, LLLP (collectively “Defendants”), all
of which own or operate the stadium in some capacity, oppose
the motion.Dkt. No. 21. Having reviewed the motion,
the oppositions thereto, the record of the case, and the
relevant legal authorities, the Court will grant the motion
as to some of Plaintiffs' grievances but deny as to
others. The reasoning for the Court's decision follows.
mentioned previously, Plaintiffs are all baseball fans who
visit T-Mobile Field regularly to watch their favorite team
take the field. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 3.1-3.4. Because
of mobility disabilities, all are confined to wheelchairs.
Id. In the course of enjoying a day of America's
favorite pastime, however, all have encountered various
obstacles specific to wheelchair users. See, e.g.,
id. at ¶¶ 4.15-4.18.
comprise four separate entities. Washington State Major
League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District
(“PFD”) is a Washington state municipal
corporation, created by the Washington State Legislature and
the King County Council, that owns T-Mobile Field. Dkt. No.
21 at 7. PFD, in turn, leases the Field to the other
privately-owned entities, Baseball of Seattle, Inc., Mariners
Baseball, LLC, and The Baseball Club of Seattle, LLLP
(collectively “the Mariners”), who manage
operations and maintenance of T-Mobile Field. Dkt. No. 1 at
¶ 3.5, 3.6, 5.20; Dkt. No. 19 at 6; Dkt. No. 21 at 7, 7
n.5 (stating that under the current lease between PFD and the
Mariners, “the Mariners are responsible for all ongoing
operation, management, and maintenance of the
of T-Mobile Field began on March 8, 1997, with legendary
Mariner Ken Griffey, Jr. helping to break first dirt.
See Seattle Mariners, T-Mobile Park
(last visited Aug. 8, 2019). But, as Defendants point out,
planning for the Field's design dates back to 1996. Dkt.
No. 21 at 7.
Field boasts a retractable roof and is also composed of four
separate seating tiers, which are
“vertically-stacked.” Id. Closest to the
field is the 100 Level and, extending upward, are the 200 or
“Club” Level, the Suite Level, and the 300 Level.
Id.; see also Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 4.9. The
tiers are then divided horizontally into sections.
level is connected to a concourse that contains concessions
and which guests use to access their seats. In the 100, 200
and Suite Levels, the concourse is located at the rear of
each section. Dkt. No. 21 at 8. In the 300 Level, guests
access their seats from the concourse through passages
located in the middle of the sections. Id. At
field-level, the 100 Level also includes the “Diamond
Club, ” which is a premium seating location directly
behind home plate. Id. at 9 n.7. Guests access the
Diamond Club through four tunnels from the 100 Level
concourse. Id. at 8. These tunnels are the only
points of access to seating on the 100 Level, apart from the
access provided directly from the concourse. Id. A
diagram of the Field, provided by Defendants, is appended as
T-Mobile Field's architecture, the structure itself is
actually composed of eight separate building segments made
largely of concrete. Dkt. No. 19 at 14-15; Dkt. No. 21 at 11,
25. These segments are connected by architectural assemblies
called “expansion joints” designed to allow the
structure to safely expand and contract with changes in
temperature. Expansion joints are common in large stadiums
and, as with T-Mobile Field, are usually covered with
accessible seating is provided throughout T-Mobile Field. On
the 100, 200, and Suite Levels, ADA-compliant seating is
located adjacent to the concourses. Dkt. No. 21 at 8. In the
300 Level, compliant seating is located in the middle of each
section, where the passages provide access from the
concourse. Id. Field-level accessible seating is
located in Section 35, as only two of the four tunnels
providing access to the Diamond Club are ADA-accessible.
Id. at 8, 9 n.7. The Section 35 seating is the only
field-level wheelchair accessible seating available. Dkt. No.
1 at ¶ 4.19. Accessible seating is labeled on the
diagram provided in Exhibit A.
Plaintiffs' List of Grievances
complaint and motion for summary judgment provide a long list
of alleged noncompliant elements. See Dkt. No. 1 at
1.5; Dkt. No. 19 at 20-22. This list is also dynamic, as
discussed below, because the Mariners have conducted some
remedial measures since the initiation of the instant action.
See infra at 7-8. As best the Court can ascertain,
the following is a list of Plaintiffs' outstanding
• Seating Dimensions- Plaintiffs claim that the
accessible seating in the 300 Level fails to meet the minimum
depth requirements set by the ADA. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶
4.33- 4.38; Dkt. No. 19 at 6-7. Because the seat depth is
insufficient, Plaintiffs claim their wheelchairs
“unacceptably spill into the accessible route behind
the chairs” causing other spectators to bump into
Plaintiffs while the they attempt to pass behind the seats.
Dkt. No. 19 at 6.
• Edgar's Cantina Elevator/Lift- Plaintiffs
complain about the elevator or lift leading to Edgar's
Cantina,  which is “a bar and restaurant along
the outfield at the playing field level, ” Dkt. No. 19
at 16, is not ADA-compliant. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 4.39-4.42;
Dkt. No. 19 at 18. The Court is unclear as Plaintiffs'
exact concern with the elevator/lift. In Plaintiffs'
complaint they claim the lift is noncompliant because it
requires a key to operate and is not automatic. Dkt. No. 1 at
¶ 4.40-4.41. While, in their motion for summary
judgment, the complaint appears to be that it is too
dangerous because there is a vertical gap which may cause
wheelchair users to flip over backwards while attempting to
mount the lift. Dkt. No. 19 at 18.
• Bullpen and Dugout Access- Plaintiffs allege
that during stadium tours or when the Field is open for
public events, the Mariners allow guests to tour the bullpen
and dugout. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 4.59-4.62; Dkt. No. 19
at 19. According to Plaintiffs, these areas are only
accessible by stairs preventing Plaintiffs from visiting the
• Gaps, Cracks, and Expansion Joints-
Plaintiffs allege that there are hundreds, if not thousands,
of bumps, cracks, slopes, and changes in level along paths of
travel and walking surfaces around the stadium that present
hazards for wheelchair users. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶
4.54-4.56; Dkt. No. 19 at 13-15. Some of these obstacles
result from maintenance issues where adjacent sections of
concrete or brick meet or from expansion joint covers with
excessive rises in elevation. Dkt. No. 19 at 14-15. These
excessive cracks cause wheelchair users to become stuck or
excessively jostled while attempting to traverse causing
“pedestrians to crash into wheelchairs from the rear,
spilling food or drinks on themselves” or “nearly
fall[ing] to the ground due to the unexpected bump.”
Id. at 15.
• Eating and Drinking Surfaces- Plaintiffs
claim there are numerous eating and drinking surfaces around
the park that do not comply with ADA standards. Dkt. No. 1 at
¶¶ 4.53, 4.57; Dkt. No. 19 at 16-17, 19. For
example, Plaintiffs list the following: (1) drink rails that
are too high on the 200 Level, Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 4.53; and
excessively tall dining tables and counters in (2)
Edgar's Cantina; (3) “The Pen”; (4) Edgar's
Cantina Home Run Porch; and (5) Lookout Landing,  Dkt. No. 19 at
• Concession Counters- In addition to
noncompliant eating and drinking surfaces, Plaintiffs claim
that several of the sales counters at concession stands
around T-Mobile Field are also noncompliant. Dkt. No. 1 at
¶¶ 4.43-4.46; Dkt. No. 19 at 16. For example,
Plaintiffs list the following: counters in The Pen, including
(1) Jack Daniels Bar; (2) Silver Bullet Bar, Dkt. No. 1 at
¶ 4.45; (3) most of the “Shortstop Beer”
stands; (4) the “Hop Box” beer stand; and (5) the
bar at Edgar's Cantina, Dkt. No. 19 at 16.
• Concession Lines- Plaintiffs claim that many
of the lines leading up to concession counters also fail to
meet the ADA's width requirements preventing wheelchair
users from navigating to sales counters. Dkt. No. 1 at
¶¶ 4.47-4.52; Dkt. No. 19 at 17-18.
• Distribution- Plaintiffs charge Defendants
with failing to provide sufficient distribution of
ADA-compliant seating throughout T-Mobile Field. See
Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 4.9-4.28; Dkt. No. 19 at 10-13,
20. This includes the allegation that the current arrangement
fails to provide both sufficient choice of admission prices
and locations throughout the Field.
• Sightlines- Plaintiffs allege that guests
seated in ADA-compliant seats on the 100 Level do not have
comparable sightlines to both the field of play and
scoreboards. Dkt. No. 1 at ¶¶ 4.21-4.25, 4.29-4.32;
Dkt. No. 19 at 7-10. This failure is exacerbated when fans
seated in front of wheelchair accessible seats stand up in
excitement during particularly exhilarating moments in the
Procedural History and Subsequent Improvements
instant action commenced on October 15, 2018 when Plaintiffs
filed their complaint. Dkt. No. 1. In it, they allege three
causes of action for violations of Titles II and III of the
ADA, as well as Washington state law. They then moved for
summary judgment on May 20. 2019.Dkt. No. 19. Defendants
opposed the motion. Dkt. No. 21.
and Defendants, however, have long been in contact with each
other regarding Plaintiff's grievances. See Dkt.
No. 21 at 6 (“Consistent with [the] practice [of
continually updating and bettering their accommodation
offerings], the Mariners and Plaintiffs' counsel had
pre-litigation dialogue in which the Mariners agreed to
promptly address immediately solvable issues and to
investigate in good-faith the more complicated issues
raised.”). In fact, it is clear from the parties'
pleadings that significant accessibility changes have
occurred since the initiation of this action, but it is
unclear to the Court just how much has changed in the
example that is evident from the pleadings, for example, is
that the number of field-side ADA-compliant seats has
increased. Plaintiffs complaint states that the “only
field level wheelchair accessible seating on the 100 Level of
the stadium is currently in the Diamond Club” and that
“there is one wheelchair accessible seat in the Diamond
Club which costs $500, and it does not comply with 2010 ADA
standards.” Dkt. No. 1 at ¶ 4.20. By the time
Defendants filed their response, however, they informed the
Court that “[f]ollowing the 2018 season, the Mariners
embarked on an ADA Seating Expansion project, to provide for
additional accessible seating within the 100 Level of the
Stadium.” Dkt. No. 19 at 10. Now, according to
Defendants, “[t]here are sixteen ADA spaces located in
the front row of Section 35.” Dkt. No. 21 at 8; see
also Id. at 9 n.7 (“The Mariners implemented an
ADA Seating Expansion project over the past off-season. As a
result, sixteen (16) additional accessible seating spaces
have been added to the 100 Level in Section 35. These are
seats that are in the first row next to the field. Four are
Diamond Club and twelve are Premier seats.” (Internal
citations removed)). These sixteen seats include eight
wheelchair accessible spaces and eight companion seats.
Malcolm Rogel Decl., Dkt. No. 22 at ¶ 8.
provides that a district court “shall grant summary
judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute
as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a);
Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. SFR Investments Pool 1,
LLC, 893 F.3d 1136, 1144 (9th Cir. 2018), cert.
denied, 139 S.Ct. 1618 (2019). “Materiality”
is based on the substantive law, making disputes over facts
material only where they “might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A
“genuine dispute of material facts, ” occurs
where the “evidence is such that a reasonable [finder
of fact] could return a verdict for the nonmoving
the course of a motion for summary judgment, the moving party
bears the “initial responsibility of informing the
district court of the basis for its motion, ” including
“identifying those portions of the pleadings . . .
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal citations and quotations
removed). Further, “[w]here the moving party will have
the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the movant must
affirmatively demonstrate that no reasonable trier of fact
could find other than for the moving party.”
Soremekun v. Thrifty Payless, Inc., 509 F.3d 978,
984 (9th Cir. 2007). On an issue where the nonmovant bears
the burden of proof, however, “the moving party can
prevail merely by pointing out to the district court that
there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving
party's case.” Macareno v. Thomas, 378
F.Supp.3d 933, 940 (W.D. Wash. 2019) (citing Celotex
Corp., 477 U.S. at 325).
the moving burden has met its initial burden, the nonmovant
must respond showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. “If the nonmoving
party fails to establish the existence of a genuine issue of
material fact, ‘the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.'” Perfect Co. v.
Adaptics Ltd., 374 F.Supp.3d 1039, 1041 (W.D. Wash.
2019) (quoting Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323-24). In
conducting its evaluation of the merits of a motion for
summary judgment, “the court does not make credibility
determinations or weigh conflicting evidence.”
Soremekun, 509 F.3d at 984. Instead, the Court must
“view ‘the evidence in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party.'” Universal Cable
Prods., LLC v. Atl. Specialty Ins. Co., 929 F.3d 1143
(9th Cir. 2019) (quoting Pension Tr. Fund for Operating
Eng'rs v. Fed. Ins. Co., 307 F.3d 944, 949 (9th Cir.
the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals, like
Plaintiffs, who live with various forms of disability. Its
enactment in 1990 was intended by Congress “to provide
clear, strong, consistent, enforceable standards addressing
discrimination against individuals with disabilities.”
42 U.S.C. § 12101(b)(2). The ADA is divided into several
titles, two of which are relevant to the instant action.
Title II provides that “no qualified individual with a
disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded
from participation in or be denied the benefits of the
services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be
subjected to discrimination by any such entity.” 42
U.S.C. § 12132. Both parties in this matter agree that
PFD qualifies as a public entity subject to Title II.
See Dkt. No. 19 at 5; Dkt. No. 21 at 11.
III, on the other hand, addresses “Public
Accommodations and Services Operated by Private
Entities” and provides that “[n]o individual
shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in
the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services,
facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any
place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases
(or leases to), or operates a place of public
accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). Both parties
agree that the Mariners are private entities and that
T-Mobile Field is a public accommodation regulated under
Title III. See Dkt. No. 19 at 6; Dkt. No. 21 at 11.
provisions of the ADA are supported by a structure of code,
regulations, and guidance materials that help define and
explain its provisions. Because the parties focus almost
exclusively on Title III of the ADA, as outlined in Section
IV.B. of this order, the Court will focus on its provisions.
See infra at 14-15.
Title III,  discrimination includes “a failure
to remove architectural barriers . . . in existing facilities
. . . where such removal is readily achievable.'”
42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(iv). It also provides that
newly constructed facilities like T-Mobile
Field-i.e., those designed and constructed for
occupancy after January 26, 1993-must be “readily
accessible to and usable by individuals with
disabilities.” Id. at § 12183(a)(1).
Title III also directs the Attorney General to “issue
regulations . . . that include standards applicable to”
public accommodations, id. at 12186(b), and to
provide “appropriate technical assistance manuals to
individuals or entities with rights or duties under this
chapter.” Id. at § 12206(c)(3).
promulgation process, however, includes an “unusual
twist.” Miller v. California Speedway Corp.,
536 F.3d 1020, 1024 (9th Cir. 2008). Congress mandated that
the Attorney General's regulations must “be
consistent with the minimum guidelines and requirements
issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers
Compliance Board, ” 42 U.S.C. § 12186(c), which is
“commonly referred to as the ‘Access
Board.'” Miller, 536 F.3d at
1024. Thus, the Access Board establishes the
“‘minimum guidelines' for Title III, ...