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Supreme Court: Foreign cruise ships must obey Disabilities Act

WASHINGTON, DC, June 6, 2005 -- Foreign cruise ships can be sued under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled today.

The court, in its 5-4 decision, overturned a lower-court ruling that foreign cruise ships are not covered by the ADA's Title 3, which bars discrimination in places of public accommodation. The cruise ships are covered by the ADA, said the court, so long as they are sailing in U.S. waters and docking at U.S. ports.

The case involved a lawsuit against Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd. over three cruises that originated in Houston . The cruise ships Norwegian Sea and Norwegian Star are from the Bahamas; Norwegian Cruise Line is owned by a Malaysian company and is the world's third largest cruise company.

The lawsuit was brought by three plaintiffs -- wheelchair users -- and their companions. They said that barriers on board prevented access to evacuation equipment, to public restrooms, restaurants, swimming pools, elevators and cabins with a balcony or a window. In addition, said the suit, the cruise lines charged extra for accessible cabins. The Court of Appeals in New Orleans had earlier ruled that the individuals could not sue these companies since they were not U.S.-owned ships.

Read article from Associated Press
Read the Court's decision [PDF file]


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William Stothers






Expert sources

From the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers:

Historical Context of the ADA

ADA definition of disability

Overview of law's structure

The ADA is changing the landscape of America -- commentary

"The ADA changed my life" -- personal stories

The meaning of "disability" under ADA

"A misunderstood law" -- commentary

The ADA Notification Act

Supreme Court ADA decisions.

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