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The owner of a movie theater in Wayne County, Ga., has agreed to obtain equipment to assist patrons with disabilities as part of a settlement reached under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg announced the settlement between the United States and Austin Hickox Legacy LLC (AHL), owner of the Historic Strand Dinner Cinema in Jesup, Ga. Under the terms of the settlement, the company agrees to provide closed-captioning and audio description devices for patrons of the Strand's three auditoriums.
"This settlement helps to ensure that all patrons of the Strand's theaters can participate fully and equally in the entertainment offered to the community, regardless of their abilities," said U.S. Attorney Steinberg. "Just as importantly, this settlement should remind all places of public accommodation that our office will work under federal law to remove barriers to access and equal opportunity for all citizens."
Under federal law, private entities that own or operate places of "public accommodation," including movie theaters, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability. The ADA authorizes the Justice Department to investigate complaints and undertake periodic reviews of compliance of covered entities. The Department is also authorized to commence a civil lawsuit in federal court in any case that involves a pattern or practice of discrimination or that raises issues of general public importance, and to seek injunctive relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties.
The investigation was the result of a complaint from a mother on behalf of her child with visual impairments that the Strand did not have audio description devices available for use by patrons with limited vision. After an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office verified the complaint, AHL agreed to acquire six captioning devices and two audio description devices, and develop a plan to make the devices available by training its staff and posting instructions for operating the adaptive equipment. AHL also agreed to pay the complainant $1,500 as part of the settlement.
The settlement was negotiated on behalf of the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bradford C. Patrick of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation or public entity in the Southern District of Georgia is not accessible to persons with disabilities may do so at www.ada.gov. Additional information about the ADA can be found by calling the Justice Department's toll-free information line at 800-514-0301 and 800-514-0383 (TTY).
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