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Orioles, stadium authority sued over wheelchair accessibility

Oriole Park at Camden Yards has widespread accessibility issues for baseball fans in wheelchairs, according to a lawsuit brought against the Baltimore Orioles and the Maryland Stadium Authority.

Three wheelchair users claim Camden Yards has never complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act since it opened in 1992. Kelly Buckland, Henry Claypool and Andrew D. Levy also allege that since July 2017, each of them have been stuck in a wheelchair lift while trying to get to their seats.

Wheelchair-accessible seats on the lower level of the stadium are not ADA compliant because when fans in the front rows stand up in their seats, those sitting behind them in wheelchairs cannot see the action on the field, according to the lawsuit, filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Friday.

The plaintiffs seek an order requiring Camden Yards to comply with the ADA and for damages for the harm they incurred by getting stuck in the lift and having their view of the field obstructed because of where the wheelchair accessible seating is located, the lawsuit states.

Kevin D. Docherty, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, criticized the Orioles for holding “Celebrate ADA Day” in July but denying fans in wheelchairs a full experience at the ballpark.

“The best way for the Orioles to honor the ADA and demonstrate their commitment to accessibility would be by ensuring that all of the wheelchair accessible seating at Camden Yards actually complies with the law’s requirements,” said Docherty, an associate at Brown, Goldstein & Levy LLP in Baltimore.

The plaintiffs are also represented by Docherty’s colleague, managing partner Sharon Krevor-Weisbaum. Levy, one of the plaintiffs, is a name partner at the firm. He was unavailable for comment Monday.

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh’s office, which represents the Maryland Stadium Authority, declined to comment because the litigation is pending. Officials with the Orioles did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Each of the three plaintiffs detailed their experience with one specific wheelchair lift, installed in Section 242 of the stadium before the 2011 season, but frequently gets stuck, according to the lawsuit. Fans cannot operate the lift themselves, only ushers, according to the lawsuit.

Buckland was at a game with his family in July 2017 when it got stuck, trapping him in the carriage. Maryland Stadium Authority engineers had to come in to operate the broken lift, the lawsuit states. Buckland was “embarrassed and frustrated” by the entire incident, the complaint states.

Levy, an Orioles season ticket holder since 1981, had a similar incident a month later, when he went to the ballpark to celebrate his grandson’s birthday. The lift got stuck between the concourse level and the seating level, requiring stadium authority engineers to get him out of the lift carriage and to assist him after the game, the lawsuit states.

Levy sent a letter to stadium authority counsel after that incident. The Baltimore attorney has raised concerns about wheelchair accessibility at Camden Yard with stadium officials since 1989, the lawsuit states.

Claypool had his problems with the lift in May, when he felt trapped and was concerned about getting hurt while exiting the carriage. Claypool and his wife were moved to another section with a wheelchair row and a lift that worked without any problems that day in section 230, but that lift also has a history of malfunctions, the lawsuit alleges.

The case is Henry Claypool, et al. v. Baltimore Orioles Limited Partnership, et al. 

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