On October 25, 1996, a disability advocacy group and an individual who used a wheelchair, sued the landlord of several downtown Denver buildings and their tenants who operated retail stores in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Judge Alan B. Johnson claiming violations of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and violation of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, C.R.S. § 24-34-601 et seq.
The plaintiffs filed four separate complaints - each for a different building that allegedly limited access to the disabled in the "Larimer Square" area of Denver. A single partnership owned and operated all four buildings. The remaining defendants operated retail businesses in each building and leased from partnership. On January 9, 1997, the District Court, (Magistrate Judge O.E. Schlatter) consolidated the cases. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed that all the buildings had steps which prevented access to the disabled and that there was no alternative way of entering the buildings.
On March 3, 1997, in an unpublished order, the District Court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that the ADA did not require the plaintiff to exhaust all administrative remedies and that, contrary to the defendants' contentions, the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act required removal of accessability barriers, rather than simply prohibiting erection of new barriers. Colorado Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited Partnership I,
No. 96-2490, 1997 WL 33471624 (D. Colo. Mar. 3, 1997).
On July 11, 1997, the District Court dismissed the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition and all its claims, with prejudice and without payment of attorneys' fees and costs. The docket and other documents do not state the reason for this order, although the court noted that the Coalition had filed the motion to dismiss itself. Colorado Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited Partnership I,
No. 96-2490, 1997 WL 1523959 (D. Colo. Jul. 11, 1997).
On August 5, 1997, the District Court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment based on lack of standing, finding that the individual plaintiff had been injured even though he did not attempt to enter the stores in question. Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited Partnership I,
No. 96-2490, 1997 WL 33471623 (D. Colo. Mar. 3, 1997).
On August 12, 1997, the District Court denied the Plaintiffs motion for summary judgment regarding one of the stores, Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited Partnership I,
No. 96-2490, 1997 WL 1523958 (D. Colo. Aug. 12, 1997), the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment as to one of the buildings. Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited Partnership I,
No. 96-2490, 1997 WL 1523960 (D. Colo. Aug. 12, 1997), and scheduled the case for trial, denying a motion to certify a class.
A three day trial lasted from April 20, 1998 to April 22, 1998. On June 22, 2000, in an unpublished order, the Court granted judgment as a matter of law for the defendants with costs, although each party would bear its own attorneys' fees. The District Court concluded that the plaintiff had failed to establish that removal of architectural barriers at the four locations was readily achievable. The plaintiff filed an appeal as to one of the locations, the Crawford Building, on August 2, 2000 in the U.S. Circuit Court for the Tenth Circuit. Judges Mary Beck Briscoe, Bobby Ray Baldock, and Carlos F. Lucero heard the case. The United States filed an amicus curiae brief on October 24, 2000, though it is not publicly available.
On August 29, 2001, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the District Court in an opinion by Judge Baldock, ruling that "[w]hile this is a close case, we conclude Plaintiff introduced evidence regarding only speculative concepts of ramp installation, rather than evidence that a specific design was readily achievable." Colorado Cross Disability Coalition v. Hermanson Family Limited,
264 F.3d 999 (10th Cir. 2001).Eric Weiler - 06/18/2010