WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today that it has resolved a lawsuit against the University of Michigan under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Justice Department and the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans Association brought suit to challenge the lack of accessible seating in the university’s football stadium. Today, the federal district court in Detroit entered a consent decree resolving the lawsuit.
Under the settlement agreement, the university – which is currently in the midst of a $226 million expansion of the stadium – will add over 200 wheelchair and companion seats to the stadium during the next two years. The majority of these seats will be along the sidelines. Currently, the stadium has 81 pairs of wheelchair and companion seats, all located in the end zones. The university is planning to add luxury boxes and suites as part of its expansion project, and those seating areas also will include additional wheelchair seating. By the 2010 football season, the university will have over 300 pairs of wheelchair and companion seats dispersed throughout the stadium as a result of this consent decree.
The university also agreed to significantly modify its ticketing policies for wheelchair and companion seats for a two-year period following the time that each seating area becomes available. This will help to ensure that individuals who use wheelchairs will be afforded a meaningful opportunity to purchase these seats. The university will also add accessible parking, improve inaccessible toilet rooms, and provide accessible routes to and throughout the stadium.
“The Justice Department is committed to continued vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This agreement will ensure that the university’s football stadium, which is the largest college football stadium in the United States, has the accessible seating and amenities that federal law requires,” said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I commend the University of Michigan and the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans Association for working cooperatively with the United States to ensure that the rights of individuals with disabilities are protected.”
“This is a great day for all University of Michigan fans. Thanks to the cooperation of U of M, and the hard work and dedication of those Department of Justice attorneys who work diligently every day on civil rights matters, fans with disabilities - as well as their families and friends - will be able to enjoy the excitement of all home games together,” said Stephen J. Murphy, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
The Justice Department intervened in this lawsuit against the university on Nov. 26, 2007, after receiving a referral from the U.S. Department of Education following its lengthy investigation of complaints filed by persons who use wheelchairs. The University had previously entered voluntary agreements with the Department of Education.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or the agreement can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov.