Goddard's case for theater accommodations rejected by court

Chris Rizo May 1, 2008, 1:16pm

Terry Goddard

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline)-A federal judge has rejected a case filed by Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, ruling that movie theater owners can't be forced to install special equipment for people with hearing and vision disabilities.

Goddard sought the case to force Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Harkins Theatres to install special technology, but U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver said Goddard lacks the authority to do so, the Arizona Business Gazette reported Thursday.

Silver ruled that Harkins Theaters is not excluding anyone by not offering the special technology.

The judge said Goddard was actually seeking to force the movie houses to provide entirely different services to those with hearing and vision problems.

She said the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination "on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment" of services, but said the law must "be interpreted to have some practical, commonsense boundaries."

The state may appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the newspaper reported.

The lawsuit was filed in 2006.

It claimed that none of the 262 screens the company operated at the time offered closed caption technology so the hearing-impaired patrons can get special equipment that displays the dialog being spoken by actors on the screen.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

More News