Super Bowl Scare

Beverly Walker, a disabled self-proclaimed sports fan, sought to delay Super Bowl XXXVII, to be played on Jan. 26th, until Qualcomm Stadium fully complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Walker was trying to impose an injunction, saying the stadium failed to comply with a February 2001 settlement of her earlier disabilities act lawsuit by not making the stadium fully accessible to handicapped people. The original settlement stems from a 1997 lawsuit that Walker and three other disabled people brought against the city, the Chargers, and the Padres.

Magistrate Judge Leo Papas toured the stadium for the third time yesterday and noted the improvements the Chargers and stadium team has implemented to aid the handicapped.

More than 100 disabled parking spaces had been added, ramps and railings had been built, bathrooms now comply with the disabilities act, and elevators had been installed.

"It is undoubtedly true that the plaintiffs can establish that the city has not met its obligations," he said. "There has been a major effort to comply, although there may remain some issues.

"I have not seen a persistent pattern of failure to comply," Papas said, "though that doesn't mean what they have done is sufficient."

Papas warned the city that it must keep working toward meeting its settlement promises and that he will consider monetary sanctions against the city and having the city pay Walker's attorney fees because it has not met the February 2001 promises. The parties settled the lawsuit, with the city agreeing to make more than $5 million in improvements by last April.

Papas believed the city tried to comply and said he would not stop the game which will be Jan. 26th.

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