A $24 million settlement will end class action lawsuit allegations that the 49ers Levi’s Stadium failed to meet accessibility requirements, limiting access to those with disabilities.
Class Members include those with mobility disabilities, along with their companions, who attended or planned to attend events at the 49ers stadium, also known as Levi’s Stadium. There are three subsets of Class Members:
- Those who have a mobility disability who use some sort of aid, such as a wheelchair or scooter, who obtained accessible seating for an events at the stadium between April 1, 2015 and March 9, 2020, but were denied equal access to stadium facilities, amenities, or other services;
- Those with a mobility disability who use an aid to obtain or attempted to obtain accessible seating after Dec. 7, 2013, but were denied equal access to stadium facilities; and
- Those who purchased event tickets for the Levi’s 49ers stadium, but were denied equal access to stadium facilities.
The 49ers stadium class action lawsuit alleged that the 49ers football stadium, stadium management companies, and the City of Santa Clara violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide equal access to its facilities to those with mobility disabilities.
Originally, the plaintiffs – a husband and wife – included ticket sellers like Live Nation as defendants, claiming that they did not provide customers the opportunity to purchase tickets to accessible seats.
The dispute centered on allegations that, with the construction of the new 49ers stadium – Levi’s Stadium – in 2012, the defendants neglected important components of the ADA, resulting in access problems for the plaintiffs and their proposed Classes.
According to the plaintiffs’ fourth amended complaint, “the Stadium lacks many of the legally-required architectural features that make facilities accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities […] the Stadium is characterized by inaccessible suites, a lack of sufficient accessible seating, inaccessible entrances, inaccessible restrooms, inaccessible and inadequate signage, and other physical barriers.”
The 49ers stadium class action lawsuit claimed that the stadium’s parking lots presented issues for those with mobility disabilities as well. According to the complaint, there are not a sufficient number of accessible parking spots next to Levi’s Stadium. As a result, Class Members with mobility disabilities are required to park “off site” in parking lots in Santa Clara. However, these parking options are not accessible, according to the plaintiffs.
“These lots are not adjacent to the Stadium. Most of them are a mile or more away, contain physical access barriers, and lack an accessible path of travel from the parking lot to an accessible primary entrance to the Stadium,” explains the 49ers stadium class action.
“The City’s pedestrian right of way from these parking lots to the Stadium contains numerous access barriers, including broken, cracked and uplifted pavement, excessive cross slopes, inaccessible curbs and curb ramps, and inaccessible crosswalks. In addition, Defendants have failed to provide accessible transportation from these parking lots to the Stadium.”
The 49ers, along with Live Nation, first entered into a reported settlement agreement in late 2018. It wasn’t until October 2019 that the plaintiffs entered into the proposed $24 million settlement with the 49ers companies and City of Santa Clara. This deal is headed for a final approval hearing scheduled for July 16, 2020.
Under the terms of the 49ers stadium class action settlement, the defendants have agreed to a cash award for certain Class Members, as well as injunctive relief. Class Members entitled to a cash award include those in the “Damages Class.”
According to the settlement website, Class Members in the Damages Class include individuals who “(1) have a mobility disability and use a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility aid; (2) purchased, attempted to purchase, or someone else bought on your behalf accessible seating for an event at Levi’s Stadium between April 13, 2015 and March 9, 2020; and (3) were denied equal access to Levi’s Stadium’s facilities, services, accessible seating, parking, amenities, and privileges, including ticketing.”
Damages Class Members must file a claim online or by mail no later than June 28, 2020 in order to receive payment.
Class Members who make a valid claim will receive a minimum of $4,000, up to a maximum award of $80,000. Class Members must provide information regarding their attempts to purchase accessible tickets to events at the 49ers stadium, along with accessibility problems they encountered.
The 49ers and the City of Santa Clara have also agreed to make changes to the accessibility of Levi’s Stadium as a part of the injunctive relief provided by the settlement. These changes include modifications to the 49ers stadium parking lot, pedestrian right of way to the connecting parking lots, as well as changes to ticketing and shuttle services.
Damages Class Members can exclude themselves or opt out of the 49ers stadium class action settlement. Other Class Members may not, however. The deadline to do so is June 28, 2020.
UPDATE: On July 23, 2020, a federal judge in California granted final approval of a $24 million class action settlement in a case that pitted a Class of football fans against the San Francisco 49ers.
There are three Classes:
- Damages Class, including “All persons with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters or other mobility aids who have purchased, attempted to purchase, or for whom third parties purchased accessible seating and who have been denied equal access to Levi’s Stadium’s facilities, services, accessible seating, parking, amenities, and privileges” between April 1, 2015 and March 9, 2020.
- Injunctive Class, including “All persons with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility aids who will attempt to purchase accessible seating for a public event at Levi’s Stadium and who will be denied equal access to the Stadium’s facilities, services, accessible seating, parking, amenities, and privileges, including ticketing” after Dec. 7, 2013.
- Companion Injunctive Class, including “All persons who are companions of persons with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, scooters or other mobility aids and who have used or will use companion seating for public events located at Levi’s Stadium” after Dec. 7, 2013.
Between $4,000 and $80,000.
- The amount of each award will depend on the total number of approved claims
- Individual claims will be limited to $80,000 and are expected to be a minimum of $4,000
Proof of Purchase
Damages Class Members must submit a claim form either online or by mail. The claims form requires a description of the events, including date, Class Members’ efforts to purchase tickets for accessible seating, and any access barriers encountered, including if they caused the Class Member difficulty, discomfort, or embarrassment.
No claim form is necessary for Injunctive Relief Class Members.