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Team Discriminates Against the Disabled?

In early December, Rebeka and Carrie Stowell filed suit, in a Texas federal court, against the Houston Astros (and others) alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Fans of their local baseball team, the Stowells wanted to attend a game, but encountered numerous impediments which compelled them to leave the stadium prematurely.

Apparently, Rebeka suffers from Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (“POTS”) and is “substantially impaired in several major life activities, including walking and standing, and relies on a power wheelchair for mobility.” And because she also suffers from Type 1 Diabetes, Rebeka also relies on a service animal -- specifically, “a diabetic alert dog that has been individually trained to assist Rebeka by detecting her blood sugar levels and to alert Rebeka when her blood sugar is either too high or too low.” (Complaint, paragraphs 5-7)

In advance of their attendance of the game held on June 21, 2022, Rebeka’s mom, Carrie, contacted the team’s ticket office and inquired about accessible seating, and was advised that their tickets could be exchanged for accessible seats. And the stadium’s website purportedly indicated that “designated-accessible parking” was available at the property. Of course, when they reported to the arena on game-day, the Stowells were not only unable to find the pertinent parking space (and had to park off-site), but there was considerable pushback about the ticket-exchange, and hurdles associated with the service animal’s entry. (Complaint, paragraphs 27-31)

And compounding the unpleasantness of their experience a bit further, the stadium’s restrooms were also not statutorily compliant and were inaccessible for Rebeka’s use.

Alleging, among other things, that Rebeka was a victim of unlawful discrimination, the Stowells’ lawsuit seeks to recover “compensatory and nominal damages, reasonable costs and attorneys’ fees,” together with an order directing the team and its co-defendants, to “alter their policies, practices, and/or procedures to make the Property accessible to and useable by individuals with a disability who rely on wheelchairs and/or service animals to the full extent required by the ADA[.]”

Think this case will dog the Astros?

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Stowell v. Houston Astros (et al) ~ Complaint