Appeals Court: Wheelchair User Not Entitled To Damages In Jack In The
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 26, 2006
SANTA ANNA, CALIFORNIA--A California appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit that had been filed by a wheelchair user who claimed a fast food restaurant had violated his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act.
David Gunther had sued John Lin, owner of a Jack in the Box franchise, claiming that when he visited the restaurant, a pipe under a restroom sink had not been insulated, and a mirror had been hung too high for him to use. Gunther sought $8,000 in damages under the state's Unruh Act, which allows for $4,000 for each intentional act of discrimination.
Lin argued that Gunther visited the restroom while it was being remodeled and before insulation was installed, and that an employee hung the mirror by mistake, because Lin did not want any mirrors in the room due to vandalism.
The three-member panel from the Fourth District Court of Appeal sided with a lower court, ruling Thursday that Gunther did not prove that Lin intentionally violated his rights, and that he could not, at the same time, seek lesser damages for unintentional violations of the ADA.
His attorney, Morse Mehrban, told the Metropolitan News-Enterprise that he would ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision.
According to a rather unfavorable story in the Orange County Weekly, Gunther has filed more than 200 lawsuits over the past three years against small businesses he claims have violated the rights of people with disabilities.
"Im just trying to make the world a better place," he said. "I see myself as a champion of the rights of disabled people."
"Court: Showing of Discriminatory Intent Required to Trigger Greater Penalties for ADA Violations" (Metropolitan News-Enterprise)
"The New Crips" (Orange County Weekly)
Decision: Gunther v. Lin (California Courts of Appeal)