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PASADENA, Calif.—Actions that two Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. restaurants took to accommodate disabled customers violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.
The federal appeals court, hearing the case of Maurizio Antoninetti vs. Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. in Pasadena, Calif., ruled Monday that a written “Customers With Disabilities Policy” failed to provide disabled customers the “Chipotle experience” of watching their food being prepared, court records state.
The lawsuit stems from a wall in the restaurants that is too tall to allow customers in wheelchairs to watch their food being assembled. Before Mr. Antoninetti, a paraplegic, sued the two San Diego-area Chipotle restaurants, they accommodated people in wheelchairs by showing them samples of food on serving spoons, in cups or by holding the food with tongs.
After Mr. Antoninetti sued the restaurants, they adopted a new written policy in 2007 that stated disabled customers could be accommodated by providing samples of food in cups, showing them food choices at a separate table, describing the food preparation process to them or a combination of the three.
A trial court ruled that the new policy met ADA requirements.
But the appeals court overturned the trial court, saying Chipotle did not provide “equivalent facilitation.”
The appeals court remanded the case.