CHICAGO – A blind Louisiana man filed a lawsuit last month against McDonald's, based in Oak Brook, Illinois, for allegedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not allowing walk-up service at its drive-thru windows, a suit that the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch's executive director says is ridiculous.
Scott Magee alleges in his suit filed on May 27 in U.S. District Court in Chicago that the McDonald’s refuses to accommodate the blind at its drive-thrus by not allowing walk-up service, making it impossible for a blind person to order food when they can’t drive and the lobby is closed during certain times.
"This particular lawsuit in my mind is ridiculous," Travis Akin, executive director at the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch, told the Louisiana Record. "No one in their right mind would suggest that a company is deliberately trying to insulate themselves from a potential sale. Any fast-food company that has drive-thru hours that are separate from the lobby hours, they want to make that sale, but they also want their employees to be safe. If you start allowing people to come through and stand right next to the window, you are potentially putting your employees at risk.”
Akin says McDonald's policy of not serving walk-up customers at its drive-thrus is not a violation of the ADA.
"It’s not intended to discriminate against people who aren’t able to drive thru late at night, but also you don’t want the pedestrian traffic in your drive-thru where you have cars," Akin said. "There’s all kinds of liability issues as well as safety issues for people working there.”
This isn’t the first suit brought against McDonald’s by a blind consumer. Last year, a New York man sued the fast food chain alleging that its use of Freestyle soda machines with touch screens violated the Americans with Disabilities Act because the blind can’t use the machines without assistance. The suit made mention of how ATM machines accommodate the blind with audio and tactile buttons. This case is pending.
Magee’s case is the second suit that his family has filed. His brother Emmett filed a lawsuit against Coca-Cola in a similar case about soda machines. The case is now being appealed.
“To me this is a shake down," Atkins said. "It’s more for a settlement then to help people. We just keep coming up with more and more creative ways to file with the hope that the judge will rule in their favor. I think that is what is happening here.”