Shellie Ellison lives in Shelbyville, Indiana and has a disability that confines her to a wheelchair. She cannot visit or use her local post office because the US Postal Service (USPS) refused to build a wheelchair ramp. She sued USPS in federal court for violating her rights against discrimination based on disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
The parties conducted extensive discovery and each filed motions for summary judgment based on the facts in the record. Although the lower court judge recognized that Ellison could not physically access the post office, he ruled on summary judgment that she had meaningful access to the post office’s services and program because of a combination of access to the office’s loading dock, to services on the web, and to smaller branch offices that were further away. She appealed to the Seventh Circuit.