Morgan & Morgan attorneys David Oliver and Jessica L. Thorson have settled a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of a wheelchair-bound Iowa man who alleged that the Kum & Go convenience store chain failed to make its gas station pumps and handicap parking spots accessible to disabled customers and failed to provide adequate communication devices for refueling assistance as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). As part of the settlement agreement, the company will spend millions to make upgrades at more than 400 stores across 11 states.
Attorney David Oliver, who served as lead counsel in the class action, noted that the settlement represents a drastic shift in the way gas stations and convenience store chains accommodate their wheelchair-bound and disabled customers.
“For years, the practice of turning a blind eye to the accessibility and refueling assistance needs of the disabled community has been the norm and an acceptable practice for the national gasoline/convenience store chains,” Oliver said. “It was once considered sufficient to have disabled individuals honk their horns and flash their lights to get the attention of the employee inside the store, who may or may not even notice them. The tide has now turned.”
Filed in April 2013, the class action alleged, among other ADA violations, that Kum & Go failed provide adequate measures for refueling assistance for the disabled, failed to install fuel dispensers with controls located at an appropriate height for wheelchair-bound individuals and failed to provide handicapped-accessible parking spaces of an acceptable width in appropriate locations.
Among the upgrades the company will make, Kum & Go must install fuel assistance calling devices at gas pumps, relocate fuel pump controls, and move disabled customer parking spaces closer to store entrances while widening the spaces to comply with ADA specifications. Furthermore, Kum & Go said it will be reviewing and modifying curb ramps, entrances and doors, as well as the location of self-service food and drink items.
After the settlement was reached, Oliver expressed his appreciation to Kum & Go for its willingness to come to an agreement that would benefit both the company and its disabled customers while setting an example for others throughout the gas station and convenience store industry.
“Fortunately, we found a corporate defendant who was willing to sit down with us, listen to our concerns, and ultimately agree to a win/win situation,” Oliver said. “Those gas stations who provide accessibility and adequate refueling assistance to the disabled community, such as Kum & Go under this settlement, will be recognized and patronized by the disabled community. Those who do not will lose the market of the 20 percent of Americans who fall under the protection of the ADA, and will instead be patronized by Morgan & Morgan.”