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Access For Disabled
by Ron Davis

Owners of a California shopping center have successfully responded to charges that they took inappropriate safety measures with their handicapped customers.

Located in San Diego, Midway Shopping Center faced specific charges that its owners erred in not properly assisting paraplegic customers during their visits.

Those charges came after he visited the shopping center and sought a way to enter the building but encountered parking barriers blocking his way. Apparently disturbed that the center’s management should fail to account for paraplegic customers, he afterwards sought assistance from a law firm that specialized in matters involving the Americans with Disabilities Act.

With the help of one of the firm’s lawyers, he measured the slope of the access aisle. Then together they used a procedure whereby the attorney made measurements that showed access features (They did not, however, agree that the access aisle posed an impediment for entering the center at a spot used customarily.)

At trial, the shopping center responded by calling a single witness, a licensed architect and certified access specialist. Most of his current job is devoted to architectural matters. In reviewing the Midway Shopping Center, he took slope measurements and photographs of the disabled parking area and access aisle.

Then, he made calibrated measurements and took measurements and photographs of the disabled parking space as well as the aisle in question. He also used a 24-inch stabilizing measure and took measurements in keeping with federal and state standards.

Before measuring, however, he scraped all dirt, gravel, and debris out of the way, aware that a piece of that material can make a difference in slope. From those measurements, he reported that he found no slope measurement to be in excess of 2 percent—well within acceptable standards.

Following those findings, the same expert later was again called on for his expertise. This time, he was accompanied by a licensed surveyor. And after a study of the shopping center site, the surveyor concluded that no slope exceeded 1.8 percent. Moreover, the surveyor measured from nine different elevated points, including all corner points of the parking space and access aisle areas. He concluded that the shopping center was, and is, well within the required standards of the ADA.

In ruling in favor of the shopping center, the trial court explained, “Although the court does not question…the slope analysis, the great weight of credible evidence clearly establishes that the slopes of the disabled parking space and access of the disabled parking space and access in question do not exceed required standards…. Simply stated, the evidence clearly establishes that Midway has not violated any California accessible law, nor does the evidence establish any denial of full and equal access to any goods or services provided at the Midway Center.”

(Kohler v Midway Land, LLC, Slip Copy, 2016 WL 6159136)

Decision: January 2016
Published: January 2016



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