Judge: Blind man can sue McDon­ald’s over drive-thru-only or­der­ing

Texarkana Gazette - - MARKET REPORT -

CHICAGO—To the many who suc­cumb to late-night crav­ings, McDon­ald’s drive-thru can be a bea­con of fast-food hope. But with­out a car, the dreams of in­dulging in that burger de­sire are dashed.

A blind man from Louisiana wants the fast-food gi­ant to come up with an­other so­lu­tion for those who phys­i­cally can’t drive through a drive-th ru.

Scott Magee, who is blind, filed a law­suit in May al­leg­ing that only of­fer­ing ser­vice to cus­tomers in cars at drive-thru win­dows when the in­te­rior of the store is closed is a vi­o­la­tion of the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act. A fed­eral judge in Chicago ruled Wed­nes­day that de­spite McDon­ald’s at­tempts to have the case dis­missed, Magee can go for­ward with the suit, which seeks class-ac­tion sta­tus. “Most Amer­i­cans have the ex­pe­ri­ence of driv­ing through a drive-thru and or­der­ing for them­selves,” said Roberto Luis Costales, the New Or­leans-based lawyer rep­re­sent­ing Magee in the case. “That’s an ex­pe­ri­ence Mr. Magee doesn’t have.” Many McDon­ald’s lo­ca­tions op­er­ate only as drive-thrus late at night as a se­cu­rity mea­sure. The suit says that cuts off ser­vice to dis­abled cus­tomers, like Magee, who don’t drive.

The suit isn’t ask­ing McDon­ald’s to al­low peo­ple to start walk­ing through drive-thrus. That’s un­safe, said Costales, who also has an of­fice in Chicago. It asks the fast-food chain to find some other way to serve cus­tomers with­out cars when only the drive-thru is open.

McDon­ald’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment, and at­tor­neys rep­re­sent­ing the com­pany de­clined to com­ment.

A pos­si­ble so­lu­tion, Costales said, would be al­low­ing peo­ple to or­der ahead and have an em­ployee bring the food out to them. McDon­ald’s could do that with its app, he said. The com­pany, which is plan­ning to move its head­quar­ters from sub­ur­ban Chicago to the city, rolled out a mo­bile app in 2015 and is ex­pected to launch a mo­bile or­der-and-pay func­tion some­time this year.

But McDon­ald’s has been be­hind on its app com­pared with a slew of fast­food com­peti­tors. Taco Bell launched a mo­bile or­der-and-pay op­tion in 2014. Ken­tucky Fried Chicken and Chick-fil-A an­nounced mo­bile-pay apps last sum­mer.

In the com­plaint, filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Chicago, Magee called out a McDon­ald’s near his home in Me­tairie, La., as well as two lo­ca­tions he vis­ited in San Fran­cisco and Oak­land, Calif.

The court ruled Wed­nes­day that Magee had stand­ing un­der the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act to sue re­gard­ing the Louisiana restau­rant since he is likely to visit again. It also ruled that he could seek dam­ages re­lated to the two other lo­ca­tions un­der a Cal­i­for­nia law.

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