Can I sue a business that locks me in their restroom with a two-sided deadbolt?

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Can I sue a business that locks me in their restroom with a two-sided deadbolt?

After my visit with a business on the seventh floor, I used and was locked into the “designated handicapped” restroom on the fifth floor of that building with a 2-sided deadbolt lock. I couldn’t open it without a key. I am a handicapped person and a disabled 62-year old who was visiting a healthcare professional weekly on the seventh floor of that building. I experienced a very traumatic series of episodes after I realized I was locked in. The door has both a regular thumb turn and deadbolt both sides lock on it. Only one tenant business was on that floor. I pounded on the door hard with both my hands and cane to no avail. I sat down on the marble tiled floor by the door. Finally I got a faint signal on my phone, wasn’t able to successfully make a call but was able to connect via Wi-Fi to a nearby restaurant in that building. I called the healthcare office and was connected to her office in a town 30 miles away. They tried to calm my panic as they were successful in getting a hold of the healthcare counselor in that building. She came down and was with another person who had a key, then opened the deadbolt so I could get free. The restroom has 2 handicapped stalls and one urinal and the walls, ceiling, floors were all marble. I travel nearly 70 miles on a weekly basis to see this healthcare professional in that building. Now it has been over a week and I still feel panicky and anxious, especially at bedtime and whenever I enter another restroom. I never thought for a moment of suing the building owner until I found out that has happened before in that building.

Asked on March 22, 2019 under Business Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot sue unless you can show that an employee deliberately locked you in for some reason. You can't sue for purely emotional (no physical harm done) injury which occurs due to neglience or inadvertance--e.g. someone locking you in because they turned the lock by mistake or thinking no one was in there. You can only recover for purely emotional/mental harm when someone acted in an intentionally wrongful fashion.


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