Disabled UW Alum Sues University Over Access

Exterior view of arena entrance with bronze husky statue in the foreground

KOMO News recently published an article about a University of Washington Law School graduate who uses a power chair suing the university over a lack of access to Alaska Airlines Arena, where the UW basketball and volleyball teams play.  You can read the article on the KOMO News website, or in the transcription provided below.


 

Going to a Husky basketball game at Alaska Airlines Arena takes little effort for most of us. Not for Conrad Reynoldson — he was stricken with muscular dystrophy as a child and relies on a power chair to get around.

For years, his disability never really prevented him from attending UW basketball games and volleyball matches. He attended the UW School of Law from 2011 to 2014 and is now an attorney specializing in cases involving the disabled.

Now he’s suing the University of Washington on his own behalf, claiming aspects of the arena and the university’s ticket pricing are a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“I just want equal access and enjoyment for everyone with mobility impairment,” said Reynoldson.

In his lawsuit, which was filed in United States District Court on New Year’s Eve 2015, he says he was unable to attend any games in the student section as a student because the section does not contain any wheelchair accessible seating.

He says he was “denied equal access to events offered at the Arena” and cites inadequate seating, access ramps, and parking that don’t fall in line with the ADA.

“There was a lengthy process where we tried to work it out with the university, but we couldn’t come to an agreement,” said Reynoldson. “So we filed suit with the hopes to make changes.”

One claim that is unique looks at the pricing of wheelchair accessible seats inside the Arena.

“All the accessible seats are in the most expensive sections and people with disabilities don’t have any choice and they have to pay full price for those seats,” said Reynoldson.

In court documents, he cites several games last fall where he tried to purchase single game tickets online but the only seats available were listed at $55 where there were other general admission seats as low as $20. And after he tried to buy them online, the website said he needed to contact the ticket office directly.

“We don’t have the option to buy cheaper seats,” said Reynoldson, who is in his first year as a season ticket holder to Husky Basketball.

He also says seats designated for the disabled are sometimes taken up by camera tripods and a drum set for the Husky Band.

“It’s really not an equal enjoyment of the same experience,” said Reynoldson. “People with mobile impairment should be treated the same.”

Despite the discomforts of not feeling on equal footing attending the games as a student, he waited until he was an attorney to file this lawsuit.

“For many years I knew it just didn’t seem right. Until I went to law school and really understood the law, I didn’t realize what my rights were,” he said.

A representative of the school’s athletic department declined to comment citing pending litigation.

Last Updated January 27, 2016