SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

REDHIKA CORPORATION, AS OWNER OF

COUNTRY INNS AND SUITES HOTEL, FORT WAYNE, INDIANA

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

DJ # 202-45-52

 

 

BACKGROUND

  1. This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12181 et seq., with the United States Department of Justice (“Department”) against the owner of the Country Inns and Suites located at 5926 Cross Creek Boulevard in Fort Wayne, Indiana (“Hotel”). The complainant – a woman who self-describes as a congenital triple amputee with bilateral hip disarticulation and who uses both a service animal and a wheelchair – alleged that the night desk clerk of the Hotel told her she could not have an animal stay at the hotel. The complainant further alleges that when she repeatedly explained it was a service animal and not a pet, hotel staff told her that she and her companion could stay, but they should use the rear entrance so that other guests would not be disturbed by the animal.
  2. The Attorney General is authorized to enforce title III of the ADA by requiring public accommodations to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures to enable persons with disabilities to have access to facilities that is equal to the access afforded to people without disabilities. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(a)(2). In addition, the Attorney General may commence a civil action to enforce title III in any situation where the Attorney General believes a pattern or practice of discrimination exists or a matter of general public importance is raised. 42 U.S.C. § 12188(b)(1)(B).

PARTIES

  1. The Parties to this Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) are the United States of America (“United States”) and Redhika Corporation (“Owner”), which owns and operates the Hotel.
  2. The Hotel is a place of lodging and, as such, is a place of public accommodation under title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(B) and 28 C.F.R. §36.104.
  3. Redhika Corporation owns and operates the Hotel and is therefore a public accommodation under title III of the ADA. 42 U.S.C. § 12181(7)(B) and 28 C.F.R. §36.104.

FINDINGS

  1. The United States made the following findings during its investigation. On August 27, 2004, in the evening, the complainant entered the Fort Wayne Country Inns and Suites hotel with her service animal and a traveling companion to stay for two nights. The complainant, who uses a wheelchair and self-describes as a congenital triple amputee with bilateral hip disarticulation, uses a service dog to pull her wheelchair, retrieve objects, and open doors. Upon attempting to register as an overnight guest in the hotel with an advance reservation, the night clerk told her that pets were not allowed in the hotel. The clerk stated it would not be fair to other guests to allow her in with her dog, even when the complainant explained that the dog was a service animal, and not a pet. Soon after, the night manager arrived and she and the clerk decided that the complainant could register with her animal, but said she should use the rear entrance so the other guests would not be disturbed by the animal. Upon hearing this, the complainant decided to stay elsewhere.
  2. The current Owner, while not the Hotel’s owner or operator at the time of the incident, acquired all debts and obligations of the former owner upon its purchase of the Hotel as an ongoing business concern.
  3. As a result of its investigation, the United States has determined that the complainant was denied equal access to the goods and services of the Hotel within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a), 28 C.F.R. § 36.302.
  4. In response to the Department’s investigation, the Owner has apologized to the complainant, adopted a policy about service animals, trained employees about this policy, and conspicuously posted the policy in the employee work room.
  5. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled “Enforcement.”

REMEDIAL ACTION

  1. Consistent with the ADA, the Owner will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of the Hotel by excluding or providing unequal treatment to persons with disabilities who use service animals.

  2. The Owner will maintain and enforce the policy attached hereto and by reference incorporated herein as Attachment 1 to this Agreement regarding the treatment of customers using service animals.
  3. For the life of this Agreement, the Owner will assure that new employees are trained on the policy in Attachment 1 as they are hired.

ENFORCEMENT

  1. If at any time the Owner desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification. Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect. These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.
  2. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the Owner has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for a modification of the relevant terms, the Department will so notify the Owner in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith. If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within thirty (30) days of the date it provides notice to the Owner, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement or title III and may, in such action, seek any relief available under law.
  3. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the Owner to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.
  4. Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  5. A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the Owner or the Department on request.
  6. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the Parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable. This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Owner’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  7. This Agreement shall be binding on the Owner, its agents, and employees. In the event Redhika Corporation seeks to transfer or assign all or part of its interest in the Hotel and the successor or assign intends on carrying on the same or similar use of the facility, as a condition of sale, Redhika Corporation shall obtain the written accession of the successor or assign to any obligations remaining under this Agreement for the remaining term of this Agreement.
  8. This Agreement will remain in effect for three (3) years.
  9. The person signing for Redhika Corporation represents that he is authorized to bind Redhika Corporation to this Agreement.
  10. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

FOR REDHIKA CORPORATION:


FOR THE UNITED STATES:
  WAN J. KIM
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division


BY: ____________________________
MAHESH PATEL, PRESIDENT
REDHIKA CORPORATION
5926 Cross Creek Blvd.
Fort Wayne, IN 46818
(260) 490-6060


BY: _________________________
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Acting Deputy Chief
MELLIE NELSON, Supervisory Attorney
LYN SOWDON, Investigator
Disability Rights Section - NYA
950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 616-2940




Dated:            3/13/07          

Dated:          April 2, 2007          

 

 

 

ATTACHMENT 1

COUNTRY INN AND SUITES BY CARLSON
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
POLICY REGARDING GUESTS WITH SERVICE ANIMALS

The Fort Wayne Country Inn and Suites by Carlson franchise is committed to making reasonable modifications to its policies, procedures, and practices to permit the use of service animals by its guests with disabilities. Service animals play an important role in ensuring the independence of people with disabilities, and it is therefore our policy to welcome into our motel any animal that is individually trained to assist a person with a disability.

What is a Service Animal?
Service animals are individually trained to work or perform tasks for individuals with disabilities. Service animals are not always dogs; other animals may assist a person with a disability. Service animals come in all breeds and sizes, may be trained either by an organization or by an individual with a disability, and need not be certified or licensed. Service animals do not always have a sign or symbol indicating that they are service animals. A service animal is not a pet. Service animals assist persons with disabilities in many different ways, such as:

Employee Requirements with Regard to Service Animals:
Most of the time, an individual with a disability who uses a service animal may be easily identified without any need for questioning. If you are unsure whether an animal meets the definition of a service animal, the hotel reservationist, and, where necessary, hotel management, may ask the guest the following questions at the point that the guest registers in the hotel:

You may not ask a customer questions about his or her disability. You may not ask a guest to show certification or a special ID card as proof of their animal’s training. You may not ask a guest with a service animal to use a specific entrance or exit in the hotel.

Once a guest with a service animal has answered questions posed by hotel registration staff, no employee may ask the guest any further questions about his or her service animal. You must permit service animals to accompany guests with disabilities to all areas of the hotel normally used by guests.

Since a service animal is not a pet, guests with disabilities may not be asked to pay any extra deposits, fees, or other charges because they are accompanied by service animals even if guests with pets are asked to make such payments.

Direct any questions you may have regarding this policy to appropriate management personnel.

 

 

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