Wheelchair-bound woman, Huntingdon Valley lawyer team to file 20 ADA lawsuits in eastern Pennsylvania

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 17, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A wheelchair-bound woman is suing a trampoline park facility with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 for allegedly not providing adequate parking facilities, the most recent of her 20 such lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania federal court.

Jessica Slivak filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Aug. 24 against Philly Trampoline Parks (doing business as Sky Zone) of Chalfont, plus a pair of Huntingdon Valley corporate entities.

Slivak, 43, is confined to a wheelchair due a brittle bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta. The suit says she has three children, works as a speech language pathologist and serves on committees in her church.

She has teamed with lawyer Arkady “Eric” Rayz of Kalikhman & Rayz in Huntingdon Valley to file 20 lawsuits against various companies in eastern Pennsylvania. Many of them have already settled.

Slivak owns and maintains a specially modified minivan with an automatic side ramp allowing her to enter and exit her vehicle, which is registered as a handicapped vehicle. Due to the vehicle’s side ramp, Slivak requires the use of van-accessible handicapped parking space, in order for her to have sufficient space for access to and from her vehicle.

According to the lawsuit, Sky Zone did not provide such parking when Slivak took her children there on April 4.

“Plaintiff has not returned to the property since, because of the difficulties and unnecessary risks she faces from the architectural barriers that have impeded her ability to independently bring her children to the Sky Zone. For instance, Section 208.2.4 of the 2010 ADA Standards requires ‘at least one’ parking space for every six ‘handicap accessible’ parking spaces a facility maintains to be designated as ‘van accessible,” the suit states.

“The ADA further requires ‘van accessible’ spaces to be either 96 inches wide, with an adjacent 96-inch ‘access aisle,’ or 132 inches wide, with an adjacent 60-inch ‘access aisle.’ Despite these mandates, no parking spaces at defendants’ property are designated ‘van accessible,’ as required by the ADA. As a result of defendants’ failure to provide ‘van accessible’ spaces, with the requisite adjacent ‘access aisles,’ as required by the ADA, plaintiff cannot safely lower her van’s ramp, which is her only means of entry and exit from her vehicle.”

According to the lawsuit, there were further violations of the ADA. She alleges the parking spaces there lack signs that indicate which spaces are handicap-accessible and are five feet high.

Most dangerous, she says, is a curb lip at the end of an "access aisle" to the entrance of Sky Zone.

Though Slivak says she pointed out the insufficiency of the parking lot to Sky Zone management, no corrections to the property have yet been made and concerns fell on deaf ears. 

Moreover, Slivak seeks class certification for any other persons who have been similarly-affected.

Most of her cases appear to have been quickly settled before defendants had to deal with class action issues.

In a pending suit against Panera Bread, the company argued through precedent that courts remain split on the issue of whether or not a parking lot qualifies as a place of “public accommodation” under the ADA. 

If it is not, then the defense said it would be immune from liability for any alleged violations, since the defendant “does not lease, own, operate, or control the parking lots at issue," rather, the property landlord does.

Including the matter at hand, federal court records show the plaintiff has filed 20 similar ADA-based lawsuits against various commercial defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania since March 2014. The vast majority were either voluntarily dismissed by Slivak herself or by the Court.

A prior case against Chester County Airport Authority was settled for undisclosed terms in May 2017, and two more against Panera Bread Company and Irish Rover Station House remain pending.

Slivak also filed additional ADA non-compliance lawsuits on Aug. 24 against three retail shopping centers: Neshaminy Square in Bensalem, Elkins Park Square in Elkins Park and Cross Keys Place in Doylestown.   

For violation of the ADA in the Sky Zone litigation, she is seeking the following relief:

• A declaratory judgment that at the commencement of this action defendant was in violation of the specific requirements of Title III of the ADA.

• A permanent injunction which directs defendants to take all steps necessary to bring its facilities into full compliance with the requirements set forth in the ADA, and its implementing regulations, and which further directs that the Court shall retain jurisdiction for a period to be determined after defendants certify that all of its facilities are fully in compliance with the relevant requirements of the ADA to ensure that defendants have adopted and are following an institutional policy that will in fact cause defendants to remain in compliance with the law.

• An order certifying the class proposed by plaintiff, and naming plaintiff as the class representative and appointing her counsel as class counsel.

• Payment of costs of suit and reasonable attorney’s fees, whatever other relief the Court deems just, equitable and appropriate, in addition to a trial by jury.

She is also represented by plus Gerald D. Wells III, Robert J. Gray and Stephen Edward Connolly of Connolly Wells & Gray, in King of Prussia.

The defendants have not secured legal counsel as of yet, according to court records.

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:18-cv-03625

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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