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Another Denver venue hit with accessibility suit

A lawyer for the Pepsi Center has disputed claims it fails to meet provisions for deaf people by not providing open captioning on scoreboards, court documents reveal

By Jon Chapple on 24 Apr 2017

Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado

image © David Herrera

Pepsi Center, a ~20,000-capacity arena in Denver, Colorado, has become the latest Denver venue to face legal action for the alleged violation of equality legislation.

The arena (pictured), a popular concert venue and also home to NBA team Denver Nuggets, NHL team Colorado Avalanche and lacrosse squad Colorado Mammoth, is being sued by Kirstin Kurlander, a deaf woman who claims the lack of captioning on scoreboards is not in compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

She told TV station KDVR at the time: “I don’t hear the announcements that are happening, I don’t hear the entertainment portion, I don’t hear the score… You’re missing a lot of information.”

The class-action lawsuit was originally filed in November, prior to a group of disabled people suing the city of Denver for the alleged lack of accessible seating at the city-owned Red Rocks Amphitheatre (9,525-cap.).

Lawyer Susan Klopman, representing Pepsi Center’s owner and operator, Kroenke Arena Company (KAC), responded to Kurland’s allegations on Thursday (20 April), telling the US district court for Colorado that “no court opinion or governmental regulation has stated a requirement for any place of public accommodation, much less sporting stadiums or multi-use arenas, to provide open captioning”.

“No court opinion has stated a requirement for any place of public accommodation … to provide open captioning”

Klopman countered that, under the ADA, KAC has an obligation to provide “appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with its deaf and hard of hearing patrons” – something Pepsi Center already does via “sign language interpreters, closed captioning on handheld devices or iPads and on the television monitors in the suites for all sporting events”.

While conceding that “plaintiff [Kurlander] is profoundly deaf and, thus, unable to hear any aural content announced at the Pepsi Center”, Klopman, one half of Denver’s HK Law, also disputes that it is incorrect for Kurlander to say she “requires captioning to know what is announced and what music is playing” when the same information can be conveyed by an interpreter. “Plaintiff has requested a sign language interpreter for more than one event at the Pepsi Center, and KAC has provided one or offered to do so each time,” she noted.

She concluded that the “plaintiff’s alleged sole reliance upon open captioning” – as opposed to closed captioning, interpreters, etc. – “is not typical of the class [disabled people] she purports to typify and represent” and should be dismissed.

The case continues.


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