UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF OKLAHOMA

(1)    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Plaintiff,

v.

(1)   SAIRAM ENTERPRISES, INC., LLC,
a/k/a SAIRAM ENTERPRISES, INC.,
d/b/a DAYS INN AND CONFERENCE
CENTER TULSA,

Defendant.

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Civil Action No. 14-cv-148-TCK-TLW

AMENDED CIVIL COMPLAINT

The United States of America alleges the following:

1. The United States brings this action to enforce Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36, against Sairam Enterprises, Inc., LLC a/k/a Sairam Enterprises, Inc., d/b/a Days Inn and Conference Center Tulsa (“Defendant”).

2. Defendant owns and operates the Days Inn and Conference Center Tulsa, a hotel business that discriminated against an individual with a disability and persons associated with him by denying them accommodations at the hotel because the individual with a disability was accompanied by his service animal.

3. The Attorney General has instituted this action based on reasonable cause to believe that Defendant discriminated against a person or group of persons, in violation of Title III, and that such discrimination raises issues of general public importance. 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(B).

Jurisdiction and Venue

4. The Court has jurisdiction of this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345. This Court has authority to grant a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§2201 and 2202 and authority to grant equitable relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties under 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(2).

5. Venue lies in this judicial district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b) because Defendant is located in this District, operates a hotel in this District, and the acts of discrimination occurred in this District.

Parties

6. Plaintiff is the United States of America.

7. Defendant Sairam Enterprises, Inc., LLC a/k/a Sairam Enterprises, Inc. (“Sairam Enterprises”) is a private business incorporated and in good standing in Oklahoma. Defendant owns and operates the Days Inn and Conference Center Tulsa, a hotel located at 8181 East Skelly Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma (“Hotel”), where the acts of discrimination occurred.

8. Defendant’s Hotel is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of Title III because it is “an inn, hotel, motel, or other place of lodging . . . .” 42 U.S.C. §12181(7)(A); 28 C.F.R. § 36.104.

9. As a private entity that owns and operates a place of public accommodation, Defendant is a public accommodation within the meaning of Title III. See 42 U.S.C. §12181(7)(A); 28 C.F.R. §36.104.

Facts

10. Jeffrey Crockett, a resident of Texas, is an individual with a disability within the meaning of the ADA. See 42 U.S.C. § 12102; 28 C.F.R. § 36.104. Mr. Crockett has degenerative disc disease and a demyelinating disease, which substantially limit one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, performing manual tasks, walking, standing, lifting, and bending. These impairments also substantially limit the operation of major bodily functions, including, but not limited to, normal cell growth and neurological functions.

11. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, Mr. Crockett also has service-related impairments of post-traumatic stress disorder, major depression, and panic disorder, which substantially limit one or more major life activities, including, but not limited to, caring for one’s self, and the operation of major bodily functions including, but not limited to, the brain and neurological system.

12. Mr. Crockett uses a dog that is trained to perform tasks directly related to his disabilities, including providing him with physical support, assisting him with balance and stability, picking up and retrieving items for him, and warning him of oncoming panic or anxiety attacks. Mr. Crockett’s dog is a service animal within the meaning of 28 C.F.R. §36.104.

13. Jennifer Ann Crockett is Mr. Crockett’s wife. At the time of the incident with Defendant, Mr. and Mrs. Crockett had four young children aged 10, 7, 5, and 2. Mrs. Crockett’s and Mr. Crockett’s children are associated with Mr. Crockett within the meaning of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(1)(E); 28 C.F.R. §36.205.

14. On or about July 31, 2010, Mr. Crockett was traveling through Oklahoma with Mrs. Crockett and their children.

15. Mr. Crockett telephoned Defendant and requested a room. Mr. Crockett told Defendant that he has a service animal. An employee for Defendant told Mr. Crockett that Defendant had a “no pets” policy and that no exception would be made for his service animal. The employee then hung up on him.

16. Mr. Crockett drove to Defendant’s Hotel. Mr. Crockett entered the Hotel with his service animal, leaving his wife and children in the car. Mr. Crockett asked to speak with the manager. An employee – that Mr. Crockett recognized as being the same one with whom he had spoken by phone – said she was the one to speak with. The employee refused to give her name or the name of the manager. The employee then told Mr. Crockett that Defendant would not change its mind about the “no pets” policy.

17. Mr. Crockett explained to the employee that the dog was his service animal and was not a pet. Mr. Crockett attempted to give the employee some material about service animals, but she would not accept it. The employee then told Mr. Crockett to leave the property, and further told him that she would call the police if he did not leave.

18. The employee then called someone who Mr. Crockett believed to be the owner of the Hotel. At the same time, Mr. Crockett called the Tulsa Police Department (“TPD”) and explained the situation to the dispatcher.

19. After his phone conversation with TPD, Mr. Crockett went outside to be with his family, who had been waiting in the car. By this time, Mr. Crockett was experiencing a panic/anxiety attack, and Mr. Crockett’s children were tired, hungry, and arguing with one another.

20. TPD officers arrived at the Hotel. One officer went in to talk with the employee, and another spoke with Mr. Crockett.

21. The police officer recommended that Mr. Crockett and his family go to a Best Western in Tulsa instead. Approximately 30 to 45 minutes after the TPD officers had arrived at the hotel, Mr. Crockett and his family left and drove to the Best Western hotel, and checked in without incident. Mr. Crockett, his wife, and their four young children were finally able to eat and rest two hours later than planned.

22. The next day, Mr. Crockett had a difficult time driving to his Arlington, Texas home due to his panic and anxiety attack. The attack made him dizzy and lightheaded, and feel overwhelmed, depressed, and helpless. His attack lasted two days despite medication. He was unable to function at full capacity for a number of days following the incident at Defendant’s Hotel.

23. In its conduct toward Mr. Crockett and his family, Defendant made no effort to modify its no pets policy and allow them to stay at the Hotel with his service animal despite notice by Mr. Crockett that Mr. Crockett’s dog was a service animal.

24. Mr. Crockett and his family were harmed by Defendant’s discriminatory actions. Mr. Crockett had to find alternate lodging for himself and his family and he suffered emotional distress, physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment as a result of the Defendant’s threats and actions. Mrs. Crockett likewise suffered emotional distress and mental anguish, humiliation, and embarrassment.

25. The United States has determined that Defendant discriminated against a person or group of persons, in violation of Title III, and that such discrimination raises issues of general public importance. 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(1)(B)(ii). The United States has also determined that Defendant has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by maintaining a policy of prohibiting service animals in violation of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, 12188(b)(1)(B)(i)

Causes of Action

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act

26. The allegations contained in the preceding paragraphs are incorporated by reference.

27. Defendant through its conduct alleged herein discriminated against Mr. Crockett, Mrs. Crockett, and their children on the basis of Mr. Crockett’s disability in the full and equal enjoyment of Defendant’s services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations, in violation of 42 U.S.C. §12182, and its implementing regulations at 28 C.F.R. Part 36. Defendant’s violations of Title III include, but are not necessarily limited to:

a. Excluding Mr. Crockett from a place of public accommodation and denying him full and equal enjoyment of the “goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, [and] accommodations” of that public accommodation in violation of 42 U.S.C. §12182(a); 28 C.F.R. § 36.201(a);

b. Denying Mr. Crockett the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of a place of public accommodation in violation of 42 U.S.C. §12182(b)(1)(A)(i); 28 C.F.R. §36.202(a).

c. Failing to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when such modifications are necessary to afford Defendant’s goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(2)(A)(ii); 28 C.F.R. § 36.302;

d. Failing or refusing to modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability in violation of 28 C.F.R. §36.302(c)(1).

e. Excluding or otherwise denying equal goods, services, facilities, and accommodations to Mrs. Crockett and their children because of their association with Mr. Crockett, who Defendant knew to have a disability, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 12182(b)(1)(E); 28 C.F.R. § 36.205.

28. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s conduct in violation of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, Mr. and Mrs. Crockett sustained damages, were harmed, and are aggrieved persons.

Prayer for Relief

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff United States prays that this Court grant the following relief:

29. Grant judgment in favor of the United States and declare that the discriminatory actions, practices, and policies of Defendant as set forth above, violate Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36;

30. Enjoin Defendant, its officers, agents, and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with Defendant, from discriminating on the basis of disability against Mr. Crockett and his family, other individuals with disabilities, and other individuals related to or associated with an individual with a disability in violation of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, and its implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 36;

31. Order Defendant, its officers, agents, and employees, and all other persons in active concert or participation with Defendant to adopt and implement a policy of nondiscrimination against persons with disabilities, including persons who use service animals, and to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations are afforded to individuals with disabilities, including those who use service animals, where such modifications do not result in a fundamental alteration;

32. Order Defendant to design and implement appropriate staff training programs to ensure that all personnel affiliated with Defendant who have contact with members of the public (whether employees or independent contractors) are knowledgeable about the policies related to the provision of goods and services to persons with disabilities;

33. Order Defendant to take such affirmative steps as may be necessary to restore, as nearly as practicable, each identifiable victim of Defendant’s discriminatory conduct to the position that he or she would have been in but for Defendant’s conduct;

34. Award monetary damages to Mr. and Mrs. Crockett and any other aggrieved persons, in an appropriate amount for injuries suffered as the result of Defendant’s failure to comply with the requirements of Title III of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. §§12181-12189, and 28 C.F.R. pt. 36;

35. Assess a civil penalty against Defendant as authorized by 42 U.S.C. §12188(b)(2)(c) in an amount sufficient to vindicate the public interest; and

36. Order such other appropriate relief as the interests of justice may require.


DATED: May 23, 2014





Respectfully submitted,

ERIC H. HOLDER, JR.
Attorney General
 


_____________________
DANNY C. WILLIAMS, SR.
United States Attorney
Northern District of Oklahoma


 

 

 

 

 

 

By: /s/ Ryan L. Souders
RYAN L. SOUDERS
Va. State Bar No. 73436
Assistant United States Attorney
United States Attorney’s Office
U.S. Department of Justice
110 W. 7th Street, Suite 300
Tulsa, OK 74119-1029
Tel: (918) 382-2748
Fax: (918) 560-7938
Ryan.Souders@usdoj.gov
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 


_____________________
JOCELYN SAMUELS
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
EVE L. HILL
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division


_____________________
REBECCA B. BOND
Chief
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division


_____________________
KATHLEEN P. WOLFE
Special Litigation Counsel
KEVIN J. KIJEWSKI
Deputy Chief
DAVID P. AVILA
Trial Attorney
Ca. State Bar No. 227913
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. - NYA
Washington, DC 20530
Tel: (202) 353-3638
Fax: (202) 305-9775
David.Avila@usdoj.gov
ATTORNEY TO BE NOTICED

 

CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

 

            I hereby certify that on this 23rd day of May 2014, I electronically transmitted the foregoing document to the Clerk of the Court using the ECF System for filing.  Based on the records currently on file, the Clerk of Court will transmit a Notice of Electronic Filing to the applicable ECF registrants, believed to be:

 

William D. Lunn, OBA #5566
Attorney for Defendant
Sairam Enterprises, Inc. LLC
320 South Boston, Suite 1130
Tulsa, Oklahoma  74103
(918) 582-9977
wlunn@peoplepc.com

 

                                               
/s David P. Avila                    
DAVID P. AVILA
Trial Attorney
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice

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