The 49ers’ Twitter feed included an unusual message on Thursday.
“Information about the Class Action Settlement Involving Access to Levi’s® Stadium for Persons with Mobility Disabilities,” declared the tweet. The link leads to a formal notice of the resolution of a class action alleging that the 49ers and other “discriminated against individuals with mobility disabilities and their companions by denying them full and equal access to Levi’s Stadium due to access barriers at the Stadium, its parking lots, the pedestrian right of way connecting the parking lots to the Stadium, and in the services and amenities offered at the Stadium.”
More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants “violated state and federal disability access laws by failing to make Levi’s Stadium, the parking lots, pedestrian right of way, and shuttles that serve it, as well as the ticketing and other services Defendants provide to the public, readily accessible to individuals with mobility disabilities and their nondisabled companions.” The plaintiffs contend that “individuals with mobility disabilities (specifically those individuals who use wheelchairs, scooters, or other mobility aids for mobility) and their nondisabled companions have been discriminated against because they have been denied full and equal access to Levi’s Stadium and related facilities, services, amenities, and privileges.”
The 49ers and all other defendants maintain that they have complied with the law, and that no discrimination has occurred. The settlement creates a $24 million fund for damages to those who were impacted by allegedly discriminatory practices. The settlement also “requires that Defendants make various modifications to Levi’s Stadium, its main parking lot, and the pedestrian right of way connecting the parking lots to the Stadium in order to provide persons with mobility disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, scooters, canes, walkers and other mobility aids, with improved access to the Stadium and its services and amenities.”
Claim forms must be submitted by potential class members by June 28. Alternatively, individuals who wish to take action on their own must opt out by June 28. If potential claimants do nothing, they get nothing and they will lose their right to pursue relief.
The minimum recovery per individual with an approved claim will be $4,000.
Class actions continue to provide a viable mechanism for addressing alleged violations of the law that, standing alone, may not justify pursuing legal relief. The ability to lump many claims together creates a financial incentive for lawyers to fight for a broader public good.
And the incentive is substantial. In this case, the lawyers will receive more than $13.4 million, if the settlement is approved.