INWOOD -- A advocacy group and a Martinsburg woman have filed a federal lawsuit against a shopping center and several of its stores over potential problems for disabled customers.
Louisiana Counseling and Family Services, LCFS Access to All, and Dorothy Hill filed the lawsuit against Inwood Shopping Center and stores Clyde's Karate and its owner, Timothy Clyde; Inwood Family Medicine and its parent company, Gateway Health Enterprises Corp.; Just Tezin and its owner, Jodie Greenfield; Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company; and Sunset Tanning and its owners, Cynthia and Steven Petry.
Hill, a Martinsburg resident, is a member of LCFS Access to All, an advocacy group that aims to help disabled people and preventing employment discrimination.
Louisiana Counseling and Family Services and LCFS Access to All are located at the same address. Apparently, Louisiana Counseling and Family Services spent its own time, money and effort to research the violations in the case to help the businesses correct the issues in a cost-effective and readily achievable manner, going so far as to supply contractors with architectural drawings of the property.
According to the suit, Access to All selects its more mobile disabled members to verify and collect violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after it receives a complaint and then pursues a lawsuit in order to force offending businesses to comply to ADA code.
Filed Aug. 6, the suit states that the defendant businesses had uncovered sink pipes that could burn a disabled person in a wheel chair if their legs came in contact with hot water pipes.
Clyde's Karate has no disabled accessible sign on the restroom door and no grab bars near the toilet. Inwood Family Medical was discovered with a wrongly sized restroom mirror, no correct disabled accessible sign on the restroom door, no grab bars near the toilet and a round knob on the restroom door instead of an easier L shaped handle.
Just Tezin has incorrect faucet handles, no knee clearance below its sink, no grab bars and a round knob on the restroom door. Sunset Tanning also was discovered with a wrongly sized restroom mirror, no correct disabled accessible sign on the restroom door, no grab bars and a round knob on the restroom door.
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company did not have emergency flashing lights and alarm sound, no correct disabled accessible sign on the restroom door, no grab bars and a round knob on the restroom door.
The Inwood Shopping Center, as a whole, had some other violations including no correct van-accessible parking space, no ramp access to the store close to disabled parking places, no clear ramp markings, quarter inch or taller gaps at the bottom of the ramp, no signs at the front of the disabled parking spaces, the ramp slope is too steep and its sides are not flared out properly.
Filed by Gerry Geffert of Martinsburg, the suit states LCFS Access to All, Louisiana Counseling and Family Services, and Hill argue that these violations are unlawful and discriminatory and are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief.
They are seeking injunctive relief in the form of two permanent injunctions. The first would require all the defendants to make all necessary modifications to eliminate barriers that prevent access to disabled people, and the second would prevent the defendants from discriminating against Hill, LCFS Access to All, and Louisiana Counseling and Family Services.
They are seeking declaratory relief in the form of two declaratory judgments. The first would specify the violations and declare the rights of Hill, LCFS Access to All, and Louisiana Counseling and Family Services.
The second would specify that their rights were violated and the violations must be corrected immediately. They are also hoping to be awarded litigation costs and to give each business owner a $5,000 tax credit and $15,000 tax deduction.