Man says Center City hotel booted him because of epilepsy, service dog

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 18, 2018


PHILADELPHIA – An epileptic plaintiff alleges he was refused booking at a hotel in Center City, Philadelphia, due to his disability and the presence of his needed service dog, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Jeffrey Galeone of Oaklyn, N.J., filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on July 14 versus the Rodeway Inn Center City and its manager Brian K. (full last name not given) of Philadelphia, and Choice Hotels of Phoenix.

“Plaintiff is disabled, suffering from epilepsy, a serious and permanent seizure disorder causing him to have seizures without warning. Plaintiff obtained a service dog to assist him with seizures, including warning him when a seizure is coming on, preventing potential serious and deadly injury,” the suit says.

“This service dog is a professionally trained and certified service dog. Plaintiff’s doctor recommended and prescribed a service dog to help with plaintiff’s medical seizure condition. Plaintiff takes this service dog wherever he goes, including out in public, for his health and safety.”

On Aug. 6, he went into the Rodeway Hotel at 1208 Walnut Street in Philadelphia, to book himself a room for the night. He entered the lobby and spoke with defendant Brian K., who was working at the hotel as its manager, the suit says.

“Plaintiff had his service dog with him to help with his seizure disorder. The service dog is a well-groomed, cute, lap-sized canine, very well-behaved and silent at all times, in addition to being an extremely well-trained service dog. Plaintiff at all times had the dog on a short leash and fully calm, curbed and under control. Plaintiff informed Brian that he was disabled from a seizure disorder and that the dog was his service dog. Plaintiff’s dog had a service dog emblem/medallion, which was visible and pointed out to Brian,” according to the lawsuit.

“Knowing all of the above, Brian forbid plaintiff from staying at the hotel due to having the service dog. Brian mocked plaintiff for being disabled. Brian said that only blind people have service dogs. Brian made fun of plaintiff and belittled plaintiff because plaintiff suffered from a disability. Brian informed plaintiff it was the policy of the hotel to deny him entry because of his service dog. Brian laughed at plaintiff and mocked and belittled him all the more when plaintiff became upset by Brian’s actions.”

Brian allegedly then ejected Galeone from the hotel into the street, and supposedly, when the plaintiff wrote an online review detailing his experience at the hotel – Brian then wrote an online response that further mocked and belittled him for his disability, and falsely accused him of faking the disability.

For intentional infliction of emotional distress and violation of the ADA, the plaintiff is seeking damages, individually, jointly and severally, for compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, litigation costs, interests, declaratory relief, finding that defendants are in violation of the ADA, injunctive relief, compelling defendants to change their policy to allow disabled persons with service dogs entry, further injunctive relief, compelling defendants to make a public apology to plaintiff and the disabled community, and for all other relief to which plaintiff maybe entitled by law.

The plaintiff is represented by Stephen H. Cristal of Goldfein & Joseph, in Philadelphia.

The defendants do not yet have legal counsel, according to Court records.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180701536

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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Goldfein and Joseph Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Rodeway Inn

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