Louisville Metro Sweep for Access

Restaurants. Antique stores. Consignment shops. Bars. Hardware stores. Can a wheelchair get in? Bookstores. Hair salons. Banks. Bakeries. Do you have access? To coffee shops? Law offices?


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SWEEP members file lawsuits against Louisville businesses

Sept. 9 , 2004 -- Runako Gallery, Dugan Insurance and General Eccentric were sued today in U. S. District Court by Access to the Arts, Inc., the Metro Disability Coalition and individual wheelchair users. These are all businesses along Bardstown Road. Since August, members of MetroSweep have sued 8 businesses along the Bardstown Rd./Baxter Ave. corridor. On Aug. 24, members sued Butterfly Garden Cafe, A1 Vacuum, Dreams with Wings, David R. Friedlander Antiques and Cumberland Brews.

The businesses, say plaintiffs, discriminate against individuals with disabilities because they lack entrances accessible to people in wheelchairs. They are being sued under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law enacted in 1990. Congress gave commercial businesses one and a half years to implement the Act. The deadline for compliance was January 26, 1992.

MetroSweep had sent letters to all these businesses previously, notifying them that they were breaking the law, although neither federal nor state law requires this notification process.

As spelled out in the Act, discrimination includes, ≥a failure to remove architectural barriers...that are structural in nature, in existing facilities..." The U.S. Department of Justice, in promulgating the federal regulations to implement this Act, spells out ≥installing an entrance ramp≤ as one type of barrier removal.

The Kentucky Civil Rights Act, Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 344, incorporates the ADA. KRS 344.120 states that " . . .it is an unlawful practice for a person to deny an individual the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of a place of public accommodation on the grounds of disability . . ."

Members of MetroSweep have tried unsuccessfully to enter the businesses being sued. All use wheelchairs; none were able to get in to the establishments, due to lack of wheelchair access at the entrance.

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