- Created: Friday, 16 September 2016 13:23
St. Petersburg, and the entire gulf coast of Florida, are beginning to see the effects of an improving economy. The summer months of 2016 boasted the highest national consumer confidence index ratings in the past year, according to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey. As consumer confidence improves, many local businesses see increases in both sales and patronage. Part of keeping the sunshine city economically successful means ensuring that all of our great businesses are accessible to the entire community, especially those with disabilities. Recently, LeavenLaw successfully litigated two lawsuits against inaccessible businesses in the bay area that resulted in real-world change.
St. Petersburg resident, LeavenLaw client, and self-styled dining connoisseur, Kimberly Rankine frequently dines and shops locally. Kim says that she “love[s] being able to go to different restaurants and sample different cuisines.” Recently, however, when Kim—who uses a wheelchair—dined at a local hamburger shop, she encountered barriers that kept her from accessing parts of the property that are open to the public. The historic south St. Petersburg hamburger shop that Kim visited is a local landmark, but sadly, Kim was unable to access the restroom during her visit. After her experience, Kim contacted LeavenLaw Attorney Jordan Isringhaus and developed a plan. After only two months of federal litigation, LeavenLaw obtained a settlement for Kim that requires the restaurant to make its restroom accessible, as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Settlement Reached in Two Counties
Kim encountered a similar situation while vacationing on Sanibel Island in Lee County. Although the meal was excellent at a local brunch café, the café’s inaccessible restroom blemished an otherwise great visit. After her first visit to the café in 2014, Kim personally asked the café to provide an accessible restroom but received no meaningful response from the manager or the landlord. After years of negotiation, and months of litigation with the café and its landlord, LeavenLaw obtained a settlement for Kim that requires the café and its landlord to develop and implement a plan for ADA compliance within 18 months. Remarking on the settlement, Kim said, “I can’t patronize some restaurants and shops because they can’t accommodate me in my wheelchair, but Jordan Isringhaus and Ian Leavengood have helped me immensely by getting businesses, like the café, to accommodate disabled patrons.” LeavenLaw Attorney Jordan Isringhaus commented, “Kim’s café case is a great illustration of the advantages that we as consumer protection attorneys can provide to individuals whose voices are too often ignored.”
The ADA, which mandates equality of access for disabled Americans, has been law since 1990, and most individuals with disabilities are protected by the ADA. The ADA provides information about accessibility on its website, including the ADA Guide for Small Businesses. If you, or someone you know, have encountered a barrier at a public place, call LeavenLaw at 1-855-532-8365 for a free consultation. LeavenLaw attorneys are skilled at evaluating ADA compliance issues and will assess your legal rights and explain your options in a detailed, understandable way.