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Justice Department Orders AMC Theaters To Improve Wheelchair Seating
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 13, 2006

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI--Just seven months after the nation's largest movie theater chain agreed to make the movie experience for wheelchair-users comparable to that of other viewers, the U.S. Department of Justice has ordered the nation's second largest to do the same.

The Justice Department announced that on Tuesday U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered American Multi-Cinema, Inc. and AMC Entertainment Inc. to improve seating at 1,200 AMC theater auditoriums so that patrons who use wheelchairs will have access to the same line-of-sight as other movie-goers.

The order calls for AMC to provide ramps in more than 360 cinemas, and to ensure that all new AMC theaters built in the next five years comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

Additionally, AMC was ordered to pay $200,000 in damages to movie-goers who had complained to the Justice Department, and to pay another $100,000 in civil penalties for violating the ADA.

"Providing the same moviegoing experience for individuals in wheelchairs that other patrons enjoy delivers on the promise of the ADA," Assistant Attorney General Wan J. Kim said in a DOJ press release. "These improvements will make the goals of the ADA a reality for thousands of Americans who want to enjoy this popular form of entertainment."

The order would settle a 1999 suit filed in the District Court for the Central District of California, accusing AMC of violating the rights of patrons who use wheelchairs by failing to provide equal access to stadium-style seating sections.

In 2003, the same court found AMC violated the ADA for having inaccessible entrances, exits, bathrooms, concession stands and parking areas.

Last June, Regal Entertainment Group settled a separate federal lawsuit by agreeing to provide improved lines of sight in nearly 1,000 theaters by placing wheelchair-accessible areas as close to the middle of the auditoriums as possible.

On Thursday, AMC announced that it would appeal Judge Cooper's ruling.

"Justice Department Announces Settlement With AMC Movie Theater Chain" (U.S. Department of Justice)
"AMC to appeal judge's ruling on theater modifications" (Associated Press)
"Largest Movie Chain Agrees To Rearrange Wheelchair Seating Areas" June 8, 2005 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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