Gallaudet's Chapel Hall with U.S. Capitol dome in backgroundGallaudet's new logo with TAP wording below

 

TO: Consumer Contact List
From: Karen Peltz Strauss, RERC-TA
Re: Consumer Contact List -Updates on VoIP, localism hearing, and movie captioning
Date:  January 31, 2004

 

1. VoIP - Although the FCC has not yet issued a Notice on this issue, the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications will be holding hearings in the coming week. In addition, Senator McCain has expressed an interest in holding Senate hearings on VoIP at the end of February. Although the Senate hearings may be very limited, Senator McCain's office has promised that the Senator will mention disabilities issues in his opening statement.

 

2. Localism Hearing in San Antonio - On January 28, 2004, the FCC held one of its television localism hearings in San Antonio. The purpose of this and other localism hearings being held around the country is to obtain feedback from communities on how best television programming can meet their needs. Those who attended the event said that there were major protests outside the hearings because of the FCC's orders on television ownership last year (the orders had tried to expand the number of stations that could be owned by any one entity in a community, but were largely overturned by Congress). Inside the hearing, at least two deaf/hard of hearing witnesses spoke up for increased captioning in emergency situations during the open mike session. Here is a link to the statement given by Commissioner Copps at the hearing.

 

3. Movie Captioning Settlement: A while ago, a lawsuit was brought against AMC and Loews movie theaters in the Washington D.C. area for their failure to make movies shown in their theaters accessible through captioning. The suit was brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act. What follows is a proposed settlement in the suit, which would require the installation of rear window captioning equipment in 6 AMC and 6 Loews theaters in the D.C. area within 2 years after the court approves the settlement, and in certain new AMC and Loews theaters built thereafter. Under the settlement, AMC and Loews must advertise of the availability of captioned movies appearing in these locations. The settlement also provides some flexibility in the event that new technologies are introduced that offer improved captioning solutions. The purpose of the notice below is to give individuals who object to the settlement an opportunity to raise those objections.

 

 

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

 

Kevin Ball, et al.                                                )

                                                Plaintiffs,                       )

                                                                                    )

v.                                                                                 )           Case No. 1:00CV00-867

                                                                                    )           Judge Gladys Kessler

AMC Entertainment,                   )

Inc. et al.                                                                )

                                                                                    )

                                                                                    Defendants.      )

 

NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT

for deaf or hard of hearing people

in the Washington, DC area.

Please read this notice carefully.

Your rights may be affected by this legal proceeding.

This notice affects you.

This Notice describes a proposed Settlement of a class action lawsuit brought by deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the Washington, DC area ("Class Members") against AMC Entertainment, Inc. ("AMC") and Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corporation ("Loews").  Under the proposed Settlement, Rear Window Captioning ("RWC") equipment would be installed in twelve (12) AMC and Loews theaters' screens in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area within 24 months after the Court approves the Settlement.  RWC equipment would also be installed in any new theaters built by AMC or Loews in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area.

 

Before the Court approves the Settlement, Class Members may oppose this Settlement by writing to the Court and/or appear at the Fairness Hearing. 

 

This Notice briefly describes the lawsuit, the proposed Settlement, the rights of Class Members, and the Fairness Hearing process.

                                               DESCRIPTION OF THE LAWSUIT

Kevin Ball, Aaron Fudenske and John Stanton ("Plaintiffs") filed a lawsuit against Defendants AMC and Loews.  The Court recognized Plaintiffs as representatives of a class of certain deaf and hearing-impaired people in the Washington, DC area ("Class Members").

In the lawsuit, Plaintiffs alleged that AMC and Loews violated the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and ADA regulations by failing to provide captioning for movies shown at AMC and Loews theaters.  AMC and Loews disagree and deny any violation of the ADA.  AMC and Loews say the ADA does not require movie theaters to provide captioning.  Plaintiffs and AMC and Loews want to settle their dispute.  On December 5, 2003, they entered into a Proposed Settlement Agreement (the "Settlement").

The Court is providing an opportunity for Class Members to comment on the Settlement.  The Court will also conduct a hearing to determine if the Settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable to the Class Members (a "Fairness Hearing").  After the Fairness Hearing, the Court will decide whether to grant final approval to the Settlement ("Final Approval").

CLASS MEMBERS

 

A Class Member is "any person who is incapable of hearing a motion picture soundtrack with or without the use of an assistive listening device such as those currently furnished in defendants' theatres" in the Washington, DC area (the "Class Area").

 

You are a Class Member if you cannot hear well enough to understand the soundtrack of a movie shown in a theater AND you live in one of these cities or counties:

 

Washington, D.C.

Montgomery County, Maryland

Prince George's County, Maryland

Howard County Maryland

Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Alexandria, Virginia

Falls Church, Virginia

Fairfax City, Virginia

Arlington County, Virginia

Fairfax County, Virginia

Prince William County, Virginia

Loudoun County, Virginia

SUMMARY OF THE PROPOSED SETTLEMENT

The following is a summary of the proposed Settlement:

(1)        Existing AMC and Loews Theaters.  Within 24 months of the Court's Final Approval of the Settlement, AMC and Loews will install Rear Window Captioning ("RWC") equipment for one (1) screen in twelve (12) of their theaters [six (6) AMC theaters and six (6) Loews theaters].  The twelve (12) screens to receive RWC will be mid-sized auditoriums at the following locations:

Maryland:

1         AMC City Place 10, Silver Spring, MD

2         Loews Centerpark 8, Laurel, MD

3         Loews Rio 18, Gaithersburg, MD

4         Loews Wheaton Plaza 11, Silver Spring, MD

                                                                                                            

           Virginia:                                                                     

                                                                                                            

5         AMC Hoffman Center 22, Alexandria, VA      

6         AMC Potomac Mills 15, Woodbridge, VA      

7         AMC Springfield 10, Springfield VA (already installed)

8         Loews Cineplex Odeon Fairfax Square, Tysons Corner, VA

                                                                                                            

           District of Columbia:

                                                                                                            

9         AMC Mazza Galleria 7

10       AMC Union Station

11       Loews Wisconsin Avenue 6

12       Loews Georgetown 14

(2)        New AMC and Loews Theaters.  AMC and Loews agree to install RWC equipment in one mid-sized auditorium in all new theaters built, in the Class Area after the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement. 

(3)        Closed or Moved AMC and Loews Theaters.  If any of these twelve (12) theaters or any of the new theaters is closed or moved, the RWC equipment will be installed in the replacement theater or a different theater in the Class Area.

(4)        Advertising Captioned Movie Showtimes.  AMC and Loews will provide notice of the scheduled movies for which RWC is available through both newspaper and website publication in the same way notice is provided for the Springfield, Virginia RWC screen presently operated by AMC. 

(5)        Reflection View Screens.  AMC and Loews will each maintain a number of seat reflector screens equal to ten (10) times the number of rear window captioning units installed in their respective theaters under the Settlement Agreement.  The seat reflector screens will be allocated among the theaters equipped with rear window captioning units, with each such theater having at least five (5) seat reflector screens available for use by the Plaintiff Class.

(6)        Other Captioning Systems.  Plaintiffs and AMC and Loews Theaters may petition the Court for a new and/or different form of captioning access if they agree that circumstances have changed or new technologies have been developed that makes a change appropriate. 

(7)        Attorneys' Fees and Expenses.  AMC and Loews Theaters agree to pay $260,000.00 for Plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and expenses for this case.  Plaintiffs will not be entitled to attorneys' fees or expenses for monitoring compliance with the Settlement.  However, Plaintiffs may petition the Court for attorneys' fees and/or expenses incurred to enforce the Settlement, if necessary.

(8)        You Pay Nothing.  The Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' attorneys represent your interests as a Class Member.  You will not be charged for their services. 

 

RIGHTS OF CLASS MEMBERS

No Opt Out.  Class Members have no right to opt out of the Settlement.  Class Members may not choose to be excluded from the Settlement.  The Court will determine whether the Settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable to the Class Members.  When the Court grants Final Approval, the Settlement will apply to all Class Members.

Release of Rights.  After the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement, no Plaintiff and no Class Member can file any claim or complaint in any local, state, or federal office, agency, or court about anything addressed in the Settlement Agreement.  After the Court grants Final Approval of the Settlement, Plaintiffs and Class Members will be bound by the Settlement and will give up and forever release any rights, claims, complaints, costs or expenses of any kind relating to the lawsuit.  This release applies to all claims that were brought or that could have been brought relating to the accessibility or inaccessibility of AMC and Loews theaters in the Class Area (the "Released Claims") against AMC and/or Loews (the "Released Persons").

 

                                                           FAIRNESS HEARING

A Fairness Hearing will be held on April 1, 2004, at 9:30 a.m., U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC  20001.  The purpose of the Fairness Hearing is to determine whether the proposed Settlement Agreement is fair, reasonable and adequate and should be finally approved.  If the Court grants Final Approval, a final judgment will be entered and the lawsuit will be dismissed.  The Fairness Hearing may be rescheduled, continued or adjourned by making an announcement at the Fairness Hearing.

To Oppose the Settlement.  If you wish to oppose all or any part of the proposed Settlement, you must file a statement describing your opposition ("written opposition") no later than March 12, 2004 with the Clerk of the Court at U.S. District court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC  20001.

To Appear at the Fairness Hearing to Oppose the Settlement.  If you intend to appear at the hearing and make a statement in Court to oppose the Settlement, you must file a statement of your intention to do so ("notice of intention to appear") with the Clerk of the Court at the above address no later than March 12, 2004.  No statement is required to attend and observe the Fairness Hearing.

Copies Required.  Copies of any written opposition and notices of intention to appear at the Fair Hearing must also be mailed to:

 

Thomas J. Simeone, Esq.

SIMEONE & MILLER

1620 I Street, NW, Suite 202,

Washington, DC 20006

 

and

 

David Monroe, Esq.,

GALLAND KHARASCH GREENBERG 

FELLMAN & SWIRSKY, P.C.

1054 31st Street, NW

Washington, DC 20007-4402

 

DISTRIBUTION OF THIS NOTICE

 

This Notice has been sent by electronic mail to individuals and organizations, including Gallaudet University and its student body and alumni; WGBH's Media Access Group; Deaf Digest; Alexander Graham Bell Foundation; National Association of the Deaf; TDI, Inc.; Association of Late-Deafened Adults; League for Hard of Hearing; and others.  Further distribution and/or publication of this Notice in written, electronic, or other form is permitted.

 

MORE INFORMATION

 

            This Notice is a summary of the lawsuit and the proposed Settlement Agreement.  It does not have all the details and it is not complete.  For a more detailed statement about the lawsuit and the proposed Settlement, or to read the Proposed Settlement Agreement, you may read the documents filed with the Clerk of the Court, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 333 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC  20001, during business hours of each business day.  A copy of the proposed Settlement may also be available at www.simeonemiller.com

QUESTIONS

Class Members may send questions about their claims and rights, or about this Settlement to: Thomas J. Simeone, Esq., Simeone & Miller, 1620 I Street, NW, Suite 202, Washington, DC 20006, by written correspondence or by email at tsimeone@simeonemiller.com. Questions should not be directed to AMC or Loews, attorneys for AMC or Loews, the Clerk of the Court, or the Judge.

/s/ Judge Gladys Kessler

United States District Court for the District of Columbia

Black Line Back to home page

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Optimized for a width of 800 - This page last updated: January 10, 2013
© Copyright 2007 by the Technology Access Program - All Rights Reserved