Pa. man files class action suit against Modell's Sporting Goods alleging ADA violations

By Jon Campisi | Aug 13, 2013

A Pennsylvania man has filed a class action lawsuit against Modell’s Sporting Goods over

allegations that the retailer has been violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

David Cornelsen, who is suing on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair to get around because he lost the use of his legs.

In the complaint, Cornelsen claims the Modell’s store in Willow Grove, Pa. lacks handicapped accessible parking and does not have an ADA compliant restroom.

The plaintiff says he visited the Montgomery County store in late June to purchase Philadelphia Phillies paraphernalia.

Cornelsen claims that during his visit to the Willow Grove Modell’s location, he had difficulty accessing the men’s room because of the force required by him to open the door and because the door’s closing mechanism was not adjusted to allow for the door to remain open long enough for him to get inside with his wheelchair.

The plaintiff also says he was unable to use the men’s urinal because of its “excessive height,” and that he was unable to wash his hands due to the fact that the pipes under the sink were not properly covered, which would have raised the risk of Cornelsen burning himself.

The paper towel dispenser was also allegedly unreachable by a wheelchair-bound customer.

The law firm retained by Cornelsen, Brodsky & Smith, subsequently hired professional building experts to investigate the alleged ADA violations, the complaint states, and the investigations, which are still ongoing, have thus far identified multiple Modell’s locations that are apparently in serious violation of the ADA.

The list includes Modell’s stores throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A number of Philadelphia locations made the list.

Modell’s has discriminated against Cornelsen and other handicapped people why denying them access to full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and/or accommodations of its places of public accommodation or commercial facilities in violation of the ADA, the complaint states.

“Defendant has been and continues to be required to remove architectural barriers to the physically disabled where such removal is readily achievable for its places of public accommodation …,” the lawsuit reads.

The plaintiff seeks class certification, arguing that that would be a “fair and efficient” way of adjudicating the claims.

“Because the damages suffered by the individual Class members may be relatively small, the expense and burden of individual litigation make it impossible for members of the Class individually to redress the wrongs done to them,” the suit reads.

The class is believed to be in the thousands, the complaint states.

Cornelsen, the suit says, intends to visit various Modell’s stores he has not yet been to for the purpose of “availing himself of the goods and services offered to the public at such stores, and to ensure that those stores cease evading their responsibilities under federal and state law.”

In addition to the ADA count, the suit also accuses the defendant of violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.

The plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, attorneys’ fees, costs and minimum statutory damages to for each class member.

The lawsuit was filed on Aug. 9 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Brodsky & Smith attorneys Jordan Schatz and Jason L. Brodsky.

The federal case number is 2:13-cv-04632-NIQA. 

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