November 05, 2005.
Albany Times Union - Albany,NY,USA.
ALBANY -- A blind woman from the Greene County area is suing a dozen fast-food restaurants for failing to provide menus in Braille.
Alice Camarillo, who is legally blind but retains some sight, first filed the lawsuit Aug. 12 in state Supreme Court in Greene County. Last week, it was moved to U.S. District Court in Albany at the request of one of the defendants.
Named in the suit were two McDonald's restaurants, two Subway shops, two Burger King restaurants, two Dunkin Donuts shops and one restaurant each of Wendy's, Taco Bell and KFC. The stores are in Catskill, Cairo, Kingston, Hudson and Coxsackie.
The request to move the suit came from Carrols Corp., owner of the two Burger Kings.
The suit describes Camarillo as having visited each of the restaurants during the last three years. She claims she had trouble figuring out what to order for lack of a Braille or large-type menu.
"Plaintiff has repeatedly requested the managers and other personnel ... to make their menus available in Braille or large type, but her requests have been met with indifference and ignored," the suit alleges.
The suit claims Camarillo's civil rights were violated under the Americans with Disabilities Act and asks for a jury trial to determine monetary damages. It was filed by Michael O'Neill, a New York City attorney who did not return a call seeking comment. Camarillo could not be reached for comment.
Attorneys for the two Burger King restaurants said the suit improperly cites the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law does not specify how exactly a store can meet the needs of a handicapped person, so long as those needs are met reasonably, said attorney Brian Butler of Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC in Syracuse.
"The law is clear that ... a restaurant is not required to provide menus in Braille for patrons who are blind if the waiters in the restaurant are available to read the menu to that patron," he wrote in a motion to dismiss the case.
Mary Scanlan, a spokeswoman for 75 local McDonald's restaurants, said the two restaurants named in the suit carry Braille menus. "They are available, and everybody knows about them," she said. "Managers are certainly aware of them."
A spokeswoman for Dunkin' Donuts said she was not aware of those restaurants having such menus.
Les Kriegler, a visually impaired Albany resident who is active in the blind community, said he had not heard of the suit. He said he personally doesn't have a problem with restaurants reading menus out loud.
"Certainly you want to try to work it out amicably," he said. "It comes down to what's reasonable."
If he finds a restaurant without a Braille menu, Kriegler said he usually refers it to a company that makes them.
"When I go to a McDonald's, I don't ask for a menu," he added. "I know what they've got."
Alan Wechsler can be reached at 454-5469 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source URL: http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=416426&category=BUSINESS&newsdate=11/5/2005.
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