Court Orders Class Action Lawsuit to Proceed Against Starbucks With Respect to
All Retail Coffee Shops Allegedly in Violation of
Americans with Disabilities Act and Unruh Civil Rights Act
LOS ANGELES, CA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/17/13 -- United States
District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson ruled on Friday that a class
action lawsuit against Starbucks Corporation alleging violations of
the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Unruh Civil Rights Act
may proceed to include all California stores containing pickup
counters in excess of the height permitted under the ADA.
The underlying class action lawsuit was filed on May 10, 2012 and
seeks to force Starbucks to lower the height of its pickup counters.
The plaintiffs contend that these higher counters, which are used to
pass hot liquids, discriminate against disabled customers and pose
safety risks. Starbucks claimed that the plaintiffs only had standing
to proceed against stores that they had visited. The Court's ruling
rejected this position and was in conjunction with the plaintiffs'
request to amend their Complaint to allege that the purported
violations of the ADA and Unruh Act resulted from common design plans
implemented by Starbucks at its stores.
The Complaint alleges that Starbucks has known about the problems
with its counters since at least 2005, yet "eight years later,
hundreds of stores in California still have unlawful counters." In
the interim, Starbucks has continued to discriminate "against tens,
if not, hundreds of thousands of disabled patrons in wheelchairs."
Vineet Dubey, counsel representing the putative class action members,
said, "It is an unfortunate reality that it often takes a class
action lawsuit to force large-scale violators to address systematic
abuses. We hope that Friday's ruling will expedite proceedings and
ultimately force Starbucks to immediately lower the beverage pick-up
counters at all of its coffee shops."
Cliff Burrows, Starbucks group president, Americas, Europe, Middle
East and Africa (EMEA), and Teavana, and executive sponsor of
Starbucks Access Alliance, a group at Starbucks dedicated to
accessibility issues, speaks to the counter height issue in this
video posted on Starbucks' corporate site, stating "steps we've taken
at store development across the globe, have introduced a lower-height
Dubey addressed the claims by Mr. Burrows saying, "We were surprised
to learn that Starbucks has known about the issues that its high
counters posed for customers in wheelchairs and even claimed to have
introduced lower hand-off counters (referenced in this Starbucks
blog). Yet, years later, stores across the country still have these
inaccessible counters, creating problems and safety risks for
As part of their case, the plaintiffs claim that in order to build
out stores quickly and inexpensively, Starbucks created
pre-fabricated modular pieces that were designed to adapt to any
store size. Starbucks then used the pieces, including the high pickup
counters, in stores throughout the country. Starbucks has denied that
the widespread issue with the height of its pickup counters resulted
from a common design.
For information about the Starbucks class action lawsuit, please
Vineet Dubey, firstname.lastname@example.org at the Law Offices of
Miguel A. Custodio, Jr. www.cd-lawyers.com.
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