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ADA suit against marketplace reinstated on appeal

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A federal appeals court has reinstated an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit filed by a wheelchair-bound plaintiff who said he had difficulty maneuvering in a Maryland marketplace.

John Nanni, a Delaware resident who suffers from post-polio syndrome and generally uses a wheelchair, filed suit against Glen Burnie, Maryland-based Aberdeen Marketplace Inc., which he visited several times a year, charging violation of the ADA, according to Thursday’s ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, in John Nanni v. Aberdeen Marketplace Inc.

Mr. Nanni charged the marketplace had parking spaces, curb ramps, a sidewalk and routes through the site that were not ADA-compliant, according to the ruling.

The U.S. District Court in Baltimore dismissed the case on the basis Mr. Nanni did not have standing to sue because he had not alleged “concrete and particularized” injuries, nor the likelihood of suffering future injuries. A three-judge appeals court panel unanimously overturned the District Court’s ruling.

“Notably, each of the specified barriers to access is readily removable, and removal would not impose an undue burden on Aberdeen,” said the ruling.

“Architectural barriers, such as those identified here, result in exclusion, segregation, and other differential treatment of persons with disabilities — precisely the type of discrimination the ADA seeks to erase,” said the panel’s ruling.

“Indeed, there is nothing conjectural or hypothetical about the injuries Manni suffered during his visits to the Marketplace,” the ruling said.

The District Court “applied an overly stringent and erroneous requirement of specificity to its assessment of the Complaint,” said the ruling, in vacating the District Court’s ruling and remanding the case for further proceedings.