LI movie theater sued over wheelchair access

December 15, 2010 3:22:31 PM PST
A disabled woman is taking legal action, claiming employees at a movie theater on Long Island discriminated against her.

The woman, who is paralyzed from the waist down, claims the theater wouldn't let her in because she's in a wheelchair.

The anger has faded but the memory still lingers for Danielle Napoli.

The 23-year-old is confined to a wheelchair following a car accident two years ago.

She went to see a movie at the Loews Theatres at Roosevelt Field Mall back in March, but Napoli never made it to her seat.

"I had to get up the stairs. If I could get up the stairs, I could see the movie. If not, I had to go see 'Alice in Wonderland'," said Danielle Napoli, the complainant.

When no accommodations were made to help her, Napoli complained to management and then contacted a lawyer.

On Tuesday, she filed a discrimination complaint against the mall owner and theatre's parent company for violating state law and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

"The theater should make reasonable accommodation, whether that means there should be a ramp or some other method whereby an individual would not be denied access," said Lenard Leeds, Napoli's attorney.

Spokespersons for both the mall and the theatre had no comment about the discrimination complaint.

But in an email response to Ms. Napoli, the Director of Mall Marketing acknowledges that the lack of compliance "is a potential issue".

"I should be able to go see a movie, plain and simple. I'm not asking a lot. I just wanted to see a movie and I couldn't," Napoli said.

Napoli told Eyewitness News the theatre's website indicated the facility was wheelchair accessible.

Wednesday, Eyewitness News saw a sign that provided further clarification.

Napoli hopes her lawsuit will force changes that make the entire theatre accessible to everyone.

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