A proposed class action claims the operators of dozens of Wendy’s restaurants across the South and Midwest have discriminated against customers with mobility disabilities by failing to remedy excessive slopes in purportedly accessible parking spaces, access aisles and curb ramps.
According to the 21-page case, defendants Bridgeman Foods II, Inc. and Manna, Inc. have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide equal access to their restaurants to those with mobility disabilities. The plaintiff, a Park City, Illinois resident who uses a wheelchair for mobility, says he experienced “difficulty and risk of harm” when attempting to navigate the parking lot and accessible routes to one of the defendants’ Wendy’s restaurants due to excessive sloping.
The plaintiff claims the defendants’ failure to provide customers with mobility disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of many of their facilities is evidence that the accessibility barriers are a widespread problem baked into the companies’ policies.
“The fact that individuals with mobility-related disabilities are denied full and equal access to numerous of Defendants’ facilities, and the fact that each of these facilities deny access by way of inaccessible Parking Areas, is evidence that the inaccessibility Plaintiff experienced is not isolated, but rather is caused by Defendants’ systemic disregard for the civil rights of individuals with disabilities,” the complaint scathes.
According to the lawsuit, the defendants operate at least 139 Wendy’s restaurants across Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia. Although the plaintiff says he experienced excessive slopes in the parking lot of the defendants’ Germantown, Wisconsin Wendy’s location, investigators working on the plaintiff’s behalf, according to the lawsuit, found that numerous other Wendy’s restaurants operated by the parties contained similar accessibility barriers, including ramp landings with slopes of more than 2.1 percent, ramp running slopes of more than 8.33 percent, curb ramp flares with slopes of more than 10 percent, accessible parking surfaces with slopes exceeding 2.1 percent, potholes in the parking lots and curb ramps projecting into access aisles.
Per the case, the ADA prohibits such accessibility barriers in places of public accommodation.
The lawsuit claims the widespread presence of accessibility barriers at the defendants’ facilities is evidence of a discriminatory centralized decision-making process that will likely cause barriers to reoccur even after they’ve been remediated. The suit seeks an injunction to not only remove accessibility barriers currently present at the defendants’ Wendy’s restaurants but to modify the companies’ existing policies, practices and procedures to ensure customers with mobility disabilities will be provided with full and equal access to the restaurants’ goods and services in the future.
The case looks to represent all wheelchair users with qualified mobility disabilities who were denied the full and equal enjoyment of the defendants’ goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations in the U.S. on the basis of disability because they encountered accessibility barriers due to the companies’ failure to comply with ADA slope regulations within their parking areas.
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