United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
DINO N. THEODORE and ACCESS WITH SUCCESS, INC., Plaintiffs,
LOWELL GENERAL HOSPITAL and CIRCLE HEALTH, INC., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
Dino Theodore and Access With Success, Inc. filed this
lawsuit against Lowell General Hospital and Circle Health,
Inc., which operates the hospital, alleging that Defendants
violated Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and
seeking an order requiring Defendants to remove architectural
barriers to wheelchair access at the hospital. Defendants
moved for summary judgment on May 26, 2016, and Plaintiffs
filed an opposition on June 16, 2016. [ECF Nos. 24, 26]. For
the reasons set forth below, the motion for summary judgment
is granted in part and denied in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
following undisputed facts are drawn from the parties'
statements of undisputed facts, the complaint, and
Defendants' answer. [ECF Nos. 1, 9, 25, 27].
Lowell General Hospital campus consists of a hospital with
157 patient beds, a building for doctors' offices, and
parking. The hospital was sold to the current owners and
became known as Lowell General Hospital on or around July 1,
2012. Prior to 2012, the hospital was known as Saints
Memorial and was controlled by the Roman Catholic Church,
which meant that it was exempt from the accessibility
provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act
(“ADA”). Fewer than ten percent of the
hospital's patient bedrooms are wheelchair accessible,
and fewer than ten percent of the patient bedrooms have an
accessible toilet and bathroom, as defined by Section 805 of
the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The hospital
has indicated that the lack of accessible bedrooms and
bathrooms is due to the fact that it was exempt from the ADA
accessibility requirements prior to 2012. [ECF No. 27-3].
Dino Theodore is paralyzed and requires the use of a
wheelchair for ambulation. On April 11, 2013, Theodore was
admitted to the hospital through the emergency room for a
fractured hip and femur. He was placed in a double room with
a bathroom that was not accessible by wheelchair. Theodore
alleges that he experienced certain difficulties due to the
lack of an accessible bedroom and an accessible bathroom.
[ECF No. 27 at 5-6]. Theodore also claims that it is
difficult to navigate a wheelchair from the parking lot to
the hospital and the doctors' offices on the campus, that
the hospital's x-ray table and public restroom are
difficult for him to use, and that the hospital staff has not
been trained to handle accessibility issues. Id. at
complaint alleges four categories of ADA violations at the
1) patient rooms without adequate turning areas and
associated accessible toilet and bathing areas;
2) inaccessible public restrooms;
3) insufficient accessible parking; and
4) lack of “accessible” medical equipment,
training, and policies pertaining to the provision of
services and medical care to individuals with disabilities.
imposes certain obligations to ensure accessibility when
“new construction” occurs, 42 U.S.C. §
12183(a)(1), but the parties agree that no “new
construction” has occurred on the hospital campus since
July 2012. The ADA imposes other obligations when a building
is “altered.” 42 U.S.C. § 12183(a)(2). The
parties dispute whether the hospital has been
“altered” since July 2012 such that the hospital
would be required to make additional modifications.
October and November 2015, the hospital made certain
modifications to the parking lot, including adding handrails
to walkways and fixing curb ramps near the emergency
department entrance. These modifications cost approximately
following describes evidence submitted by the parties in
support of, or in opposition to, the summary judgment ...