U. of Michigan Reaches Settlement in Lawsuit Over Wheelchair Seating in Stadium

March 10, 2008

The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor reached an agreement with the U.S. government today to resolve a dispute with a group of disabled veterans who had sued the institution over its stadium-renovation project, The Detroit News reported.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court last year, the Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America accused the university of failing to provide as many wheelchair-accessible seats as required under the Americans With Disabilities Act. Michigan contended that the plans already complied with the law, but it made some changes in the project’s design last fall after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights also accused the university of repeatedly violating the act. The U.S. Department of Justice joined the lawsuit in November, after Michigan and the Office for Civil Rights failed to agree on a new plan.

Before the renovation, the stadium had about 90 wheelchair-accessible seats, all located in the end zones. The veterans group had argued that the law required Michigan to make 1 percent of the stadium’s 107,000 seats wheelchair-accessible, and for those seats to be scattered throughout the stadium.

Under the settlement, Michigan will provide an additional 96 seats for wheelchair users by the start of the fall football season, and bring the total number of wheelchair-accessible seats to 329 by the 2010 season, the newspaper reported. The university will also revise bathrooms, ramps, and parking to better serve people with handicaps. —Charles Huckabee