McDonald's Sued by Blind Man for Violating ADA

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 14, 2016

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McDonald'sA blind man has filed a class action lawsuit against McDonald’s, claiming that the fast food giant’s drive-thrus discriminate against visually impaired customers in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Scott Magee is a blind man who attempted to get food from a McDonald’s in Metarie, Louisiana in August 2015. When he discovered that the lobby doors were locked, he walked to the drive-thru and attempted to order. Magee claims that the workers laughed at him and refused to serve him. He states that he has had similar experiences at drive-thrus in the past. McDonald’s has a policy that prohibits walk-up business at its drive-thru windows.

Denial of Access to Drive-Thru Service

The lawsuit states that customers who can drive have access to drive-thru services, but Magee and other blind people are denied access because they cannot drive. Thus, the lawsuit claims that “[d]espite being accessible to the general public, McDonald’s drive-thrus lack any meaningful accommodation for the blind. Because McDonald’s does not permit pedestrians to order from its drive-thru windows, the blind are totally precluded from accessing Defendant’s products during late night hours.”

The lawsuit was filed on May 26 in the U.S. District Court of Northern Illinois.  It seeks class action status for any legally blind person “who have been and/or are being denied access to McDonald’s late night restaurant services in the United States.” 

Access to Drive-Thru Service Sought for Visually Impaired

The lawsuit seeks an injunction prohibiting McDonald’s from violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181, et seq., an injunction requiring McDonald’s to make its late night drive-thru restaurants accessible and usable by the visually impaired, a declaration that it has been discriminating against the blind and failing to provide access for persons with disabilities. 

Magee’s attorney, Roberto Luis Costales, told the Chicago Tribune that the chance to grab a late-night snack is “a quintessentially American activity that should not be denied to someone because of their disability.”  He suggested that McDonald’s could fix this problem by installing a phone that allows customers with disabilities to call in their orders from outside and have the workers bring those orders out to them.

A McDonald’s spokesperson has said that the company does not comment on pending litigation, but it has not yet been served with the suit.

Other ADA Suits Against McDonald’s

Magee’s suit is not the first brought against McDonald’s by a blind customer.  Last year, David Dicarlo, a legally blind man who frequents McDonald’s restaurants, filed an ADA class action lawsuit claiming that the soda dispensers in the restaurants were not user friendly for visually impaired customers. 

Dicarlo’s suit claims that “[b]y failing to make its soda fountain accessible to blind persons, [McDonald’s] is violating basic equal access requirements under both state and federal law.”  He seeks an injunction and damages.  Dicarlo estimates that he could potentially represent 8.1 million visually impaired U.S. customers who frequent McDonald’s locations.  Dicarlo’s suit is still pending as David Dicarlo v. McDonald’s Corporation, Case No. 1:15-cv-02273, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

(Photo Credit: “McDonald’s” by Mike Mozart is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.)

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