SW Legal studies in Business

Boat Marina Subject to Access Rules of Americans with Disabilities Act

Appeals court held that a boat marina that was only available to people who rented boat slips, not the general public, was subject to the public accommodation rule of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words

Public Accommodation; Access; Americans with Disabilities Act; Boat Marina

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Holiday Panay Marina operated a boat marina in California. It is a private marina that can only be used by marina tenants. Nicholls rents a slip at the marina. As he is quadriplegic, he uses a wheelchair. Part of the marina in inaccessible to a person in a wheelchair. He sued the marina for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It responded that it is not a place of public accommodation because it is a private marina. The trial court dismissed the suit; Nicholls appealed.


Reversed and remanded. The ADA is interpreted liberally to further its purpose of allowing people with disabilities to enjoy access to the same establishments as those frequented by people who are not disabled. A marina that rents boat slips to the public is a “sales or rental establishment” under the ADA and is thus a “place of public accommodation.” The marina rented slips to tenants, so it is covered by the law. It is not like a private club that would be exempt. In that case, only members of the club would have access to the property.


Nicholls v. Holiday Panay Marina, 93 Cal.Rptr.3d 309 (Ct. App., Calif., w009)

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