We're still scratching our heads over this one. In July 2009, J. Paul Charlebois, a then-47-year-old who uses a wheelchair, attended a Los Angeles Angels game with a friend who held season tickets on the club level of Angel Stadium. Charlebois was told that the only two wheelchair seats on the club level, where in-seat service is routinely offered, were occupied. An usher offered to carry Charlebois to and from a general-admission seat on the club level, but the fan declined the invitation and sued the team for failing to provide basic accommodations to people with disabilities on a premium-seating level.
Charlebois' federal lawsuit sought no monetary damages beyond attorneys' fees (which could be considerable; the team has estimated that attorneys' fees and court costs could run the Angels $300,000 to $800,000). He wanted only for the stadium to change, according to a report in The Orange County Register. Did he get it?
Well, yes, if change means cheaper tickets and better food service. According to the settlement announced late last week, the Angels will not add accessible seating to the club level. Instead, the team is offering prime seating at a steeply discounted price for wheelchair users, and is expanding in-seat service to existing wheelchair seating areas at Angel Stadium this season. Tickets in the Diamond Club, the luxury seating area at the field level behind home plate, are being offered for $50 each (down from $150) to wheelchair users and a companion. The Angels are also now offering in-seat food-and-beverage service to the existing 32 wheelchair seats (and up to three companions) on the terrace level behind the field-level seats.
So, to sum up, Charlebois sued because the team was deigning to move him to another part of the stadium, and eventually he accepted a settlement that allows the team to move him to another part of the stadium. No word on how the Angels staff took to the requested sensitivity training.