A new lawsuit contends that it is very difficult for disabled individuals to appear as contestants on Let's Make A Deal, the TV game show that has been around for decades and now airs on CBS.
Two plaintiffs, Arnie Pike and Christie Rudder, both of whom use wheelchairs, are suing CBS Broadcasting, Fremantlemedia and other producers of the show, alleging they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and California's civil rights laws in the way the show has allegedly failed to provide full and equal access to facilities and services.
The lawsuit filed on Friday in California federal court details the big obstacle course that those with disabilities have to go through in order to participate on Let's Make A Deal, which first aired in 1963, recently celebrated its 500th episode on CBS, and is famous for the way that the studio audience members wear costumes in order to get selected to be the "traders."
Pike and Rudder say they got tickets for the show and arrived in costume on July 29, 2011. However, there was no on-site parking, so they had to make a deal with the manager of a nearby Denny's to park their van. Unfortunately, that meant having to cross on wheelchair two busy streets, Sunset Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue. Pike says she only made it with assistance from someone else and suffered "frustration and embarrassment."
After making it to the studio, they were escorted away from the line to wait in a raised trailer. But the only point of entry, says Rudder, was a "very slippery ramp," and the first attempt to navigate resulted in falling "frighteningly backwards." So a security guard helped her out, but even he had trouble pushing, falling on his face. Rudder experienced "great concern and embarrassment."
The two plaintiffs got hungry, but were allegedly told by reps for the show there wasn't an accessible place for them to purchase food.
Pike had to use the restroom but was allegedly told there wasn't an accessible place to use one, so she says she had to wait five hours.
Eventually, they finally got to the soundstage, but only after "popping a wheelie" to get up another ramp. The lawsuit says, "This entire sequence of events caused Rudder to feel humiliated, embarrassed, frustrated, exhausted, and fearful of serious injury."
They allegedly were separated from the other audience members in an "extremely dark" place full of tangled cables and plywood to the "extreme right" and with views obstructed by six cameras and other equipment.
Rudder asked how she would be able to get to the contestant stage if selected, and a show employee allegedly answered that a ramp would be brought out. It doesn't look like they were picked anyway.
After the taping ended, the plaintiffs say they "were again forced to encounter the same barriers they had faced when entering the soundstage."
They are seeking an injunction that orders the defendants to alter their facilities, an injunction to shut everything down until the producers comply, and further monetary damages.
CBS hasn't yet returned a request for comment. A rep from Freemantle wasn't available.
According to court records, Pike and Rudder have collectively brought about 20 discrimination lawsuits against different parties, including fitness clubs, hotels, beaches, grocery stores and libraries. Pike previously sued over ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Many of those cases appear to have settled.