Manhattan U.S. Attorney Files And Simultaneously Settles Lawsuit Against Nederlander Organization Covering Nine Of Broadway’S Most Historic Theaters
Nederlander Organization Agrees to Provide Dozens of Wheelchair Accessible and Aisle Transfer Seating Locations, and Eliminate Hundreds of Barriers to Accessibility
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the filing and settlement of a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court against NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION, the owners and operators of nine of Broadway’s most historic theaters, the BROOKS ATKINSON, the GERSHWIN, the LUNT FONTANNE, the MARQUIS, the MINSKOFF, the NEDERLANDER, the NEIL SIMON, the PALACE, and the RICHARD RODGERS, involving violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). The settlement, in the form of a consent decree, was entered today by U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Today’s resolution marks the culmination of years of work to ensure that one of New York City’s leading cultural and entertainment treasures – Broadway theater – is accessible to people with disabilities. As a result of this suit and settlement, coupled with a similar lawsuit filed by the Office against the Shubert Theaters in 2003, over twenty of the leading Broadway theaters, operated by the two largest Broadway theater organizations, will be more accessible than ever before.”
According to the Complaint and Consent Decree filed in Manhattan federal court:
In the course of an investigation and negotiation over several years, the U.S. Attorney’s Office identified numerous ADA violations at each of the nine theaters operated by NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION. Two of the theaters were constructed over one hundred years ago, in the 1910s; four of the theaters were constructed during the 1920s; and the remainder were constructed in the early 1970s and the 1980s. The ADA generally requires that, under these circumstances, barriers to accessibility be removed where it is readily achievable to do so. Throughout the Government’s investigation and the negotiation of the Consent Decree, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION agreed to remove hundreds of barriers to accessibility.
Under the Consent Decree, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION agrees to continue and eventually conclude its efforts to improve accessibility at its theaters over the next three years, as the schedules of shows at the theaters permit. NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION will do the following:
- provide a total of 70 wheelchair accessible seating locations, and direct its ticket vendors to accord priority to persons with disabilities in selling those seating locations;
- provide a total of 134 aisle transfer seating locations for persons who are able to transfer from a wheelchair into a seat, and direct its ticket vendors to accord priority to persons with disabilities in selling those seating locations; and
- eliminate over 500 individual barriers to accessibility in theater restrooms, concession counters, waiting areas, and box offices.
In addition, NEDERLANDER ORGANIZATION will pay a $45,000 civil penalty to the United States.
Since President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law in 1990, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has played a significant role in bringing numerous New York City institutions into compliance with the ADA regulations. They include Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater, the Puck Building, the Shubert Theaters, the Rainbow Room, and Radio City Music Hall.
To file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation within the Southern District of New York is not accessible to persons with disabilities, use the Civil Rights Complaint Form available on the United States Attorney’s Office’s website, www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys. Complaints should be sent to:
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York
86 Chambers Street, 3rd Floor
New York, New York, 10007
Attention: Chief, Civil Rights Unit
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David J. Kennedy and Rebecca C. Martin are in charge of the case.