T. 2-16-94 DJ 202-PL-727 MAR 10 1994 Mr. Richard K. Abraham Law Offices of Arthur L.

Drager Five Light Street, Suite 510 Baltimore, Maryland 21202 Dear Mr. Abraham: I am responding to your letter concerning the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I apologize for the delay in responding. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Pursuant to that authority, this letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute, and it is not binding on the Department. Your letter asks whether Maryland National Bank's form contract for rental of safe deposit boxes violates the ADA. The contract provides that, in the event of incompetency "or other disability" of a lessee, a legal representative of a lessee may open the safe deposit box only if all lessees of the box are present or have consented in writing. According to your letter, any non-disabled lessee may open the box without the presence of the other lessees. Title III of the ADA imposes obligations on private entities that operate "places of public accommodation." Banks are places of public accommodation covered by the ADA. 42 U.S.C. ​ 12181(7)(F); 28 C.F.R. 36.104. Title III protects persons with disabilities. The ADA defines disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of [an] individual." 42 U.S.C. 12102(2); 28 C.F.R. 36.104. A person who has been found legally incompetent is most likely an individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA (unless the incompetency is due solely to

youth). Whether a lessee who has a condition that falls within the category of "other disability" under the bank's contract is protected by the ADA would depend on whether the person has a

01-02942 -2physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA requires that the bank provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from the goods and services it offers. 42 U.S.C. ​ 12182(b)(1)(A); 28 C.F.R. 36.202. Clearly, by imposing requirements on persons with disabilities that are not imposed on others, the bank is treating persons differently on the basis of disability. This action (imposing additional eligibility criteria on persons with disabilities) is not permitted by the ADA unless the bank can show that it is necessary for the provision of its services to the persons with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. 12182(b)(2)(A)(i); 28 C.F.R. 36.202. I am enclosing copies of the regulation implementing title III of the ADA and the Department's Title III Technical Assistance Manual. I hope that this information is helpful to you and that this letter fully responds to your inquiry. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section Enclosures

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