Local Man Files Class Action Lawsuit For ADA Violations - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Local Man Files Class Action Lawsuit For ADA Violations

Updated: June 3, 2013 10:21 PM
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     Fighting to end a different kind of pain at the pump, one local disabled man is taking a major company to court hoping to pave the way for change.  The Americans with Disabilities Act has regulations in place to help disabled drivers at gas stations but, despite the law, many say it's an uphill battle.
    Gary McDermott drives on a daily basis. It's one of many obstacles he has overcome since a neck injury confined him to a wheelchair 40 years ago.  What continues to daunt the Clinton man when driving on a regular basis is getting fuel.
    "Unable to reach the button if there is even a button on the pump, trying to get somebody to come out. The ADA recommends if you need fuel to honk your horn," said McDermott.
     McDermott has shown KWQC how ineffective that can be before. In 2010 we road along as he tried to get assistance, which is mandated when more than one clerk is on duty. The following year we found out that many stations around the area don't measure up to the ADA's newly passed reach requirements. 
     It's issues like these that led him to file a class action lawsuit against Kum & Go, LC which is the fifth largest privately-held, company operated convenience store chain in the U.S. Court documents show that McDermott in one day visited several Kum & Go stations in the Iowa City area and was unable to get fuel thanks to several ADA violations he says he found consistent with the company.
     "Had the same issues so it looked like a pattern," added McDermott, "Inaccessible parking, no access aisles with them, ramps aren't done correctly."
     McDermott brought this to Kum & Go's attention more than a year ago. Days later, company representatives responded in a letter, "we are taking ADA compliance very seriously and are actively addressing ADA compliance in a number of ways."     
     But KWQC crews found out last Friday that the problems at the pump remain.  "It comes down to an issue of training, an issue of buying the right type of equipment that does comply with the law. These are not difficult fixes," said Tim Semelroth, an attorney for RSH Legal in Cedar Rapids representing McDermott.
     ADA enforcement is mostly complaint driven. Here and there complaints result in stations getting slapped with fines. Lawsuits like this are few and far between, though Kum & Go is not the only company with these violations.
     "Maybe it will open the eyes at other stores knowing that people need the service," said McDermott.
     He says all he wants is for stores to follow the laws that are in place for a reason. In the lawsuit he is requesting the company fix the violations and award him attorney's fees, costs and litigation expenses.
     Kum & Go has more than 400 convenience stores in eleven states. KWQC reached out to company officials for a comment and this the response from Megan Elfers, Director of Marketing & Communications.
     "Kum & Go does not respond to requests for information on pending litigation. Kum & Go is committed to accessibility for all of our customers and takes all such issues very seriously."