Athletic Complex Sued After Failing to Give Mom a Chair to Sit Beside Wheelchair-Bound Daughter

May 24, 2019

The mother of a wheelchair-bound woman has sued the Sanford Health Athletic Complex (SHAC) on the North Dakota State University campus after it refused to give her a chair to sit beside her daughter.
Plaintiff Tammy DeSautel claimed that when she asked a staff member, he said he’d have to ask a supervisor. “When he came back, he told me no because it’s against their policy. If he gave me a chair, they’d have to give everybody a chair,” she claimed.
This violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), DeSautel alleged.
The plaintiff’s 25-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy and reportedly needs someone next to her at all times. While she did not have a chair, DeSautel sat close by during the game in order to get as close to her daughter as possible in case she was needed. With 20 seconds left, she alleged, she was brought a chair.
In defense of the facility, Todd Phelps, NDSU’s deputy athletic director, told the media that companions of wheelchair patrons at the SHAC can sit in the row of seats directly behind the wheelchair patrons.
Nevertheless, the plaintiff has mobilized around a section of the ADA, which requires that a person in a wheelchair must be offered at least one companion seat, and the floor surface, which “shall be at the same elevation as the floor surface of the wheelchair space.”


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