Time Warner Hit With Disability Discrimination Suit Over ‘Conan,’ ‘Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers’

Conan O'Brien

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – Time Warner Entertainment, Warner Brothers Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television Distribution were slapped with two separate lawsuits on Tuesday, filed on behalf of a man with muscular dystrophy who claims that he was denied the opportunity to attend tapings of “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” and “Conan.”

According to one suit, which names Time Warner Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television Distribution, Emmanuel Ramirez – who is confined to a wheelchair due to his muscular dystrophy – attempted to order eight tickets to a taping of “Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers” in October 2011, including one ticket for wheelchair accessible seating. The complaint claims that Ramirez was told that the taping facility, Victory Studios in Glendale, Calif., isn’t wheelchair accessible.

The other suit, which names Time Warner Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment, alleges that Ramirez and three friends attempted to attend a February 2011 taping of “Conan” at Warner Bros. Studios but were told that Ramirez’s wheelchair-accessible van would not fit in the parking structure and were directed to an outdoor lot. The suit goes on to claim that none of the vehicles used to transport audience members to the studio were wheelchair-accessible, forcing Ramirez to take a path that was not only difficult for Ramirez due to its distance, but forced him into the street at times due to narrow sidewalks.

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Ramirez’s suit adds that, when he and his entourage arrived at the studio, he was told that wheelchair-accessible seating was located on the second level of the audience section, accessible only by wheelchair lift. Ramirez balked, saying that the lift looked too flimsy for his heavy electric wheelchair, and asked to be seated on the lower level, but was told that he would create a fire hazard.

ANE Productions and Team Coco Digital are also named in the suits.

Both suits, filed by the Disability Rights Legal Center, claim violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act, California Health & Safety Code, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the Blind and Other Physically Disabled Persons Act.

The complaints ask that the defendants be ordered to change their allegedly discriminatory seating policies and alter their facilities to provide equal access. The suits are also asking for treble general, compensatory and statutory damages.

Warners had no comment for TheWrap.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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