Lawsuit Against San Francisco 49ers Alleges ADA Violations

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The San Francisco 49ers have a brand new stadium (Levi’s Stadium) in Santa Clara that will be hosting the Super Bowl in just a couple weeks. But apparently, even brand new facilities owned by billion dollar enterprises can be guilty of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A fan of the 49ers who suffers from myoclonic dystonia recently filed a lawsuit against the team, saying he got thrown out of Levi’s Stadium because he had his service dog with him. The lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages.

The plaintiff, James Hilburn, says he did not have any initial problems getting into the stadium, but once he was inside he was swarmed by security guards and police and was told his dog would not be allowed in with him. The November 29 game against the Arizona Cardinals turned out to be one of the most dramatic games of the season, and the man missed it because he could not be separated from his service dog.

The stadium does have a policy in place that clearly allows service animals, which is compliant with ADA standards. The lawsuit will definitely be a black mark on the preparations for the Super Bowl to be hosted there — the 49ers have had enough public relations issues this year without having to deal with a discrimination suit. What’s more, in the same week Hilburn filed this suit, the Santa Clara Youth Soccer League filed for an emergency restraining order against the NFL for constructing the “media village” on the site of its soccer fields. The matter is currently pending in court.

Hilburn was initially granted entrance into the stadium after presenting his ticket and proving the dog was a service animal, in accordance with stadium and NFL policy. The dog is an Alaskan malamute with special training to alert other people in the event the man’s condition causes him to suffer a seizure. The man actually suffered a seizure after officials demanded he leave with his dog, and the dog appropriately responded with barking to alert people nearby.

This is just a reminder of how one simple issue of ADA noncompliance can turn into a PR nightmare and major lawsuit for an organization. Ensure your compliance with ADA signage rules and other elements by working with Erie Custom Signs.

Filed Under: ADA News

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