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Box 66738 Washington, DC 20035-6738 NOV 24 1993 Elaine B. Feingold, Co-director Clinical Legal Education Program Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. 2212 Sixth Street Berkeley, California 94710 Dear Ms. Feingold: This letter is in response to your November 22, 1993, inquiry regarding the scope of the "association" provision of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to you in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation, and it is not binding on the Department. You describe a situation in which an individual with a disability, A, attempts to rent a car to take a vacation with her two friends, B and C. A intends for one of her two friends, B, to drive because she cannot. However, B has a disability that requires the use of hand controls. The rental car company refuses to make available a vehicle with hand controls. It also refuses to rent to A, because it will only rent a vehicle when the intended driver has a valid credit card, which B does not. Your question is whether C, who does not have a disability, has an ADA cause of action under 42 U.S. C. 12182 (b) (1) (E) and 28 C.F.R. 36.205, because he was deprived of the opportunity to participate in the planned trip, because of his association with A and B. The statute provides:
-2It shall be discriminatory to exclude or otherwise deny equal goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, accommodations, or other opportunities to an individual or entity because of the known disability of an individual with whom the individual or entity is known to have a relationship or association. 42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(1)(E). The Department's regulation provides: A public accommodation shall not exclude or otherwise deny equal goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, accommodations, or other opportunities to an individual or entity because of the known disability of an individual with whom the individual or entity is known to have a relationship or association. 28 C.F.R. 36.205. We believe that the situation that you have presented to us is analogous to an illustration provided both in the analysis to 36.205 of the Department's ADA title III regulation and III3.5000 of the Department's ADA Title III Technical Assistance Manual. Both the regulation and the Manual make clear that, if a party of individuals is refused entry to a theater because one of the individuals has cerebral palsy, the other individuals in the party have an independent cause of action under the association provision. Likewise, in the situation that you present, C would have an independent cause of action because he has been denied the "advantages" that car rental would provide for the planned vacation experience. This conclusion assumes that the rental car
company acted with knowledge of C's "relationship or association" with the individuals with disabilities. We hope that this discussion is helpful to you. Sincerely,
John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section 01-02747