SW Legal studies in Business

Restaurant Must Fully Comply with ADA Access Rules

Appeals court held that a restaurant violated the ADA by not providing disabled customers the same line-of-sight of food preparation as enjoyed by customers not in wheelchairs. The restaurant chain must come into compliance and pay damages to the disabled person who brought suit.


Consumer Protection

Key Words

Restaurants; Disability; Food Preparation

C A S E   S U M M A R Y

Chipotle is a chain of restaurants. Standard design is a 45” wall that customers walk along as they tell food service employees which ingredients they want in their burrito or other Mexican item. The employees work on a 35” tall counter. Antoninetti is a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair for mobility. He could not see the food because of the wall and sued, claiming a failure to accommodate his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In response, Chipotle issued a policy that in such cases the customers would be provided samples of the various ingredients, either in little cups as they went along the line, or at a table, if the customer so prefer. Antoinetti rejected that accommodation as inadequate and proceeded with litigation. The district court dismissed his suit. He appealed.


Reversed. Chipotle is in violation of the ADA. The statute says that accommodation must be “equivalent facilitation” and customers in wheelchairs must have “lines of sight comparable to those for members of the general public.” The offer to show disabled customers the alternatives or to bring them to their table does not satisfy those requirements. The setup of the customer line violates the ADA as Antoninetti could not view the food choices. As such, Antoninetti is due injunctive relief that Chipotle come into compliance with the ADA by lowering the 45” wall. Antoninetti may collect damages in compensation for the violations that occurred in his visits to Chipotle and is due attorney fees.


Antoninetti v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, ---F.3d--- (2010 WL 2891005, 9th Cir., 2010)

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