A typical Chipotle Mexican Grill in operation
Walter Olson, now operating out of CATO, who makes something of a specialty of chronicling the most spectacular cases of legal absurdity, was (quite deservedly) particularly proud of finding this one yesterday.
The Chipotle Mexican Grill heralds its â€œChipotle Experience,â€ in which customers can watch their food being made behind a glass partition. Now a Ninth Circuit panel (including famously liberal judges Stephen Reinhardt and Dorothy Nelson) has ruled that the â€œexperienceâ€ violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, to quote the AP, â€œbecause the restaurantsâ€™ 45-inch counters are too high. The company now faces hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.â€ The ruling arrives just in time for the ADAâ€™s 20th anniversary, which, as the Washington Post notes, is serving as the occasion for a virtual binge of new regulation-making by the Obama Administration and Congress.
Online reaction to the Chipotle case is tending toward the negative if not incredulous, even at places like the San Francisco Chronicle (â€œGood Lord, people are complaining because they canâ€™t see a taco, get a life.â€) But itâ€™s also worth noting this significant passage (via Ted Frank at Point of Law) from the court record that the Ninth Circuit panel had to overcome:
The [district] court found that [wheelchair-using complainant] Antoninetti had failed to show irreparable injury because he had not revisited either restaurant after Chipotle adopted its written policy and because his â€œpurported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is neither concrete nor sincere or supported by the facts.â€ It also stated that Antoninettiâ€™s â€œhistory as a plaintiff in accessibility litigation supports this Courtâ€™s finding that his purported desire to return to the [r]estaurants is not sincere. Since immigrating to the United States in 1991, Plaintiff has sued over twenty business entities for alleged accessibility violations, and, in all (but one) of those cases, he never returned to the establishment he sued after settling the case and obtaining a cash payment.â€
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with the right to be entertained by watching their burrito being prepared.”
It’s a wonder that, in California in particular, the blind don’t get to sue Hollywood for making moving pictures they cannot see, and the deaf don’t get to collect penalties from concert venues and the opera.