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Minimum One Accessible Route
by Ron Davis
The list of customers suing shopping center owners on charges of failure to obey the strict standards of the Americans with Disability Act just keeps getting larger and larger.
One of the latest such charges is aimed at the owners of the Wykagyl Shopping Center in Wykagyl, NY. That’s where a wheelchair-bound customer confronted what she described as a “structural barrier” to the center. She claimed that the barrier prevented her from having “reasonable access” there.
She noted, however, that the rear of the shopping center provides center access, but that passage would require her to cut through either a CVS store tenant or a Starbucks tenant. Of note is that she admitted that such a route as that was reasonable and safe. She added that the CVS personnel never objected to that route taken to reach the main portion of the shopping center.
Government guidelines state that a business must provide at least one “accessible route” for handicapped-customer parking. Guidelines also specify that within a site, “at least one accessible route to a destination must be provided”
Moreover, the guidelines state that the accessible route “shall connect accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible parking that are on the same site.”
The center customer pointed out that “unlawful segregation” occurs when providing the non-disabled with an exterior pedestrian walkway while at the same time refusing to provide an accessible means of travel for the disabled.
In summary, she therefore contended that “the center owner is therefore remiss in failing to provide a pedestrian path for the disabled at the same location as the route used by the general public.”
In response, a center spokesman argued that the plaintiff has not alleged the very claim “to which she now seeks judgment in her favor.” The spokesman added, “That alone provides a sufficient basis for a ruling in favor of the shopping center. But as her center merits are also clear, the court should address those as well.”
A judge ruled in favor of the shopping center principals, explaining, “The court has considered the parking arguments and finds they are without merit. The court has considered plaintiff’ other arguments and finds that they too are without merit….No later than May 8, the plaintiff must inform the defendant of which, if any, claims specifically remain to be address and why.
“For the stated reasons, the court grants summary judgment in favor of defendant Wykagyl on the issue that is the subject (of this trial).”
(Jennifer Feltenstein, Plaintiff, v. Wykagyl Associates HJ. LLC and Starbucks Corporation, Defendants).
Decision: May 2016
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