On February 14, 2011, disabled plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Burger King Corporation. Suing under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12181 and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the plaintiffs, represented by private council, sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs sought to correct Burger King's policies and practices to include measures necessary to ensure compliance with Disability Access Requirements and to include monitoring of such measures, to remove unlawful access barriers and to prevent their recurrence so that the plaintiffs and those similarly situated who use wheelchairs or scooters will have full and equal enjoyment of Burger King restaurants.
This case is the second part of a class action brought against Burger King Corporation. In the first part of the litigation, Castaneda v. Burger King Corporation, DR-CA-0032. The plaintiffs alleged that the restaurants that Burger King Corporation leases to its franchisees in California violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and the California Disabled Persons Act. Plaintiffs alleged that Burger King violated these regulations by pursuing discriminatory policies or practices that resulted in unlawful architectural or design barriers which denied customers who use wheelchairs or scooters access to services at these restaurants. In Castaneda, the parties reached a class settlement and final approval of which was granted by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 2010. This case is in our database appearing as DR-CA-0032.
The plaintiffs filed this action in February 2011 against Burger King, bringing the same claims and asserting class action allegations as to the remaining 86 restaurants not included in the Castaneda settlement.
On May 6, 2011, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss on the same basis the defendant's motion to dismiss was denied in Castaneda. In the case at hand, the defense brought identical arguments in its motion to dismiss as in Castaneda (arguing a lack of subject matter jurisdiction for all restaurants plaintiffs had not personally visited) but the Court found no change in the law to warrant a change in ruling.
On October 28, 2011, the defendant moved for relief from discovery requiring Burger King to product for inspection numerous disability-access surveys of Burger King stores detailing architectural measurements arguing the materials are trial-preparation materials protected by Rule 26(b)(3). On December 7, 2011, Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley denied the motion for relief from discovery.
The parties initially moved for settlement on June 14, 2012. After initial motion for settlement, the plaintiffs moved for certification of 86 restaurant-specific settlement classes. On July 2, 2012, the plaintiffs entered an amended complaint listing an additional plaintiff that had visited each of the remaining 86 Burger King restaurant, eliminating the need for an overreaching injunctive class certification. Thus, the defendant did not oppose certification of the restaurant-specific settlement classes, for settlement purposes only. The Court approved the class certification on the same day the amended complaint was entered.
On October 12, 2012, the plaintiffs entered a motion for final approval of a settlement agreement. The court (Judge William Alsup) granted this on October 29, 2012. The settlement provided for significant injunctive relief including all of the measures agreed to in Castaneda, including the elimination of all accessibility barriers and the use of mandatory checklists with specific accessibility items for remodeling, alterations, repairs and maintenance. Additionally, this settlement provided for an additional remedial measure that Burger King would include in its manual to its franchisees the recommendation that franchisees check the force required to open all public exterior and restroom doors twice per month to ensure that they do not required more than five pounds of pressure to open.
Finally, the settlement provided for a cash payment of $19 million to satisfy and settle all claims for damages, including attorney's fees and costs. Maria Ricaurte - 09/27/2015