United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
ZAINEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
a civil action brought by Mitchell Miraglia against The Board
of Directors of the Louisiana State Museum and Robert E.
Wheat, in his official capacity as the chief executive of the
Louisiana State Museum. Plaintiff's claims arise under
Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act and the
Rehabilitation Act, and pertain to barriers to access for the
disabled at the historical Lower Pontalba Building in the New
Orleans French Quarter.
case was tried to the bench on September 11, 2017. Having
considered the testimony and evidence at trial, the
deposition submitted in lieu of live testimony, the arguments
of counsel as presented in their memoranda, and applicable
law, the Court now enters the following Findings of Fact and
Conclusions of Law in accordance with Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 52(a). To the extent that any finding of fact may
be construed as a conclusion of law, the Court hereby adopts
it as such. To the extent that any conclusion of law
constitutes a finding of fact, the Court adopts it as such.
FINDINGS OF FACT
Mitchell Miraglia is a quadriplegic afflicted with cerebral
palsy. Plaintiff uses an electric wheelchair for mobility.
Plaintiff has been unable to walk for 25 years.
is a lifelong resident of New Orleans and he uses public
transportation for the disabled in order to travel throughout
the City. Plaintiff enjoys going to the French Quarter and he
goes there about once a month. Plaintiff has visited Jackson
Square numerous times in the past and will return.
Louisiana State Museum owns the Lower Pontalba Building. The
Lower Pontalba borders the downriver side of Jackson Square
in the French Quarter. The doors and front wall of the
building are original from its construction centuries ago.
Lower Pontalba is open to members of the public and it houses
several retail establishments on the ground floor. Plaintiff
resides approximately 2.2 miles from the Lower Pontalba and
he would like to be able to visit the building's retail
shops during his trips to the French Quarter.
visiting the Lower Pontalba in the summer of 2015, Plaintiff
first encountered barriers that prevented him from entering
the following retail stores in his wheelchair: Ma Sherie
Amour Shop, Little Toy Shop, Louisiana Visitors and
Information Center, Creole Delicacies, Tabasco Country Store.
Plaintiff did not actually attempt to enter the stores
because he was able to determine via a visual inspection that
his wheelchair could not clear the doorways, and he was
concerned for his own safety should he try to navigate the
passages in his wheelchair.
wanted to enter the stores. If the stores had been accessible
then he would have browsed in them and perhaps made
purchases. Plaintiff was not comfortable requesting
assistance from the stores' employees when he encountered
the barriers. Given that Plaintiff visits the French Quarter
and in particular the area around Jackson Square, often and
regularly, he continues to desire to enter those stores and
he would enter them if he could.
feels emotional injury when his disability prevents him from
partaking in offerings that nondisabled members of the public
can readily enjoy.
Court found Plaintiff to be a credible witness and will
credit his testimony.
expert, Nicholas Heybeck, P.E., confirmed that there are
barriers to entry for the disabled at the foregoing
businesses and he documented those mobility-related barriers
in a report. (Trial Exhibit 3; Joint Stipulated Trial
Testimony (Heybeck) ¶ 7). The step at the Tabasco
Country Store is 5 inches (Trial Exhibit 3, Bates 0022); the
step at the Creole Delicacies is 1.25 inches (Trial Exhibit
3, Bates 0027); the step at the Louisiana Visitors Center is
5 inches (Trial Exhibit 3, Bates 0030); the step at Ma Sherie
Amour is 5.5 inches ...