ADA Applies to Foreign Cruise Ships

Tuesday, June 07, 2005
A sharply divided Supreme Court issued a lengthy and confusing ruling that holds that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to the public spaces on foreign cruise ships calling in U.S. ports. The reader is left to determine why. There is one short opinion that garnered the necessary five votes and holding that the public accommodation and specified public transportation definitions of the ADA include foreign cruise ships. A second opinion (garnering four votes) found that application of the ADA is allowed because it does not interfere with the internal management of the foreign ship. A third opinion (garnering four votes) seems to hold that the ADA provision would only apply if it does require violation of a flag state or international requirement. A fourth opinion (garnering two votes) is similar to the third opinion, but worded differently. A fifth opinion (garnering one vote) seems to be similar to opinions three and four, but worded still differently. A dissenting opinion (garnering three and one-half votes) found no clear intent on the part of Congress to extend the ADA to foreign cruise ships. The Supreme Court ended up remanding the case to the lower courts “for further proceedings.” If the cruise ship industry, the disabled community, and the lower courts are seeking clear guidance, they will have to look elsewhere. Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Line Ltd., No. 03-1388 (June 6, 2005). Source: HK Law

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