Chapman v. Pier 1 Imports

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 03-05-2015
  • Case #: 12-16857
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judge Rawlinson and Senior District Judge Bucklo
  • Full Text Opinion

Even if a public accommodation has an obstruction, the facility may still be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and afford those individuals with disabilities full and equal access if the obstruction is only isolated and temporary.

Byron Chapman sued Pier 1 Imports Inc. (“Pier 1”) under the Americans with Disabilities Act (”ADA”) claiming that a Pier 1 store had denied him full and equal access due to obstructions in the aisles and on the sales counters. Following motions for summary judgment filed by both Chapman and Pier 1, the district court granted summary judgment to both parties. However, Chapman’s grant of summary judgment was vacated following Pier 1’s appeal. Chapman subsequently filed a Second Amended Complaint and Pier 1 again filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that the obstructions were temporary. The district court granted Chapman’s cross-motion for summary judgment and denied Pier 1’s motion for summary judgment. Pier 1 appealed, and the Ninth Circuit reviewed the complaint based on: (1) “[R]egulations implementing ADA Title III . . . require that a public accommodation ‘maintain in operable working condition those features of facilities and equipment that are required to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities…’”; and, (2) “[T]he requirement that public accommodations maintain ‘readily accessible’ facilities and equipment ‘does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.’” Even though Pier 1’s aisles complied with the ADA on several occasions and store policies were supposed to reduce obstructions, the fact that the aisles were in noncompliance on multiple occasions showed that the obstructed aisles were not “isolated or temporary interruptions.” The panel therefore affirmed Chapman’s grant of summary judgment as to the aisles denying him full and equal access. However, the panel reversed Chapman’s grant of summary judgment concerning the sales counters because the obstructions on the counter did not deny him full and equal access due to their temporary nature. AFFIRMED in part, REVERSED in part, and REMANDED.

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