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Jury Finds No Civil Rights Violation by State of Hawaii or NFL in 2013 Pro Bowl Incident

A Hawaii federal jury late this afternoon found no liability against the State of Hawaii or the National Football League (NFL) after Aloha Stadium staff at the 2013 Pro Bowl stopped a woman with a physical disability from getting to her front row seat and the NFL provided her with wheelchair access seating instead, Attorney General Doug Chin announced.


Deb Ritchie sued the State and the NFL for discrimination based upon her disability and for civil rights violations. During the trial, evidence indicated Ritchie wrote to the NFL before the game claiming she could not get to her ticketed front row seat and asking for field access. Her request for field access was denied due to security and safety concerns. On the day of the Pro Bowl, Ritchie arrived in a wheelchair and with crutches but nevertheless claimed she could reach her seat.  Aloha Stadium staff stopped Ritchie from descending sixty steps to get to her seat because she appeared unsteady on her feet and therefore a danger to herself and to others in the event of an evacuation.  Ritchie watched the game from a wheelchair access row.

Today’s verdict clears the State and NFL of all liability in this case. A previous trial in 2015 ended in a mistrial after the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. Federal district judge J. Michael Seabright presided over both trials.

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