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Judge Approves Multimillion Dollar Kmart Accessibility Settlement

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

DENVER, COLORADO--"Yea! It's done," Carrie Ann Lucas told the Rocky Mountain News, after learning that a judge has approved what is being touted as the largest award in an accessibility lawsuit.

Under the settlement, approved by a federal judge Thursday, Kmart will pay $13 million in damages to shoppers, $3.25 million in legal fees, and a projected $60 million to retrofit 1,400 Kmart stores across the country to make them more accessible to customers with disabilities over the next 7 1/2 years.

Lucas, who is a community organizer with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, filed a federal complaint in 1999 after running into barriers to access -- including inadequate parking, narrow aisles, fitting rooms and checkout lines -- at several Denver-area Kmart stores. The suit was granted class action last year.

Under the agreement, damages are to be distributed to class members -- customers or potential customers in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Texas -- who believe they have faced accessibility-related disability discrimination at Kmart stores. The money -- ranging from $50 to $8,000 each -- will be distributed in the form of cash and gift cards.

In addition to paying damages, Kmart agreed to remodel their stores to ensure access to merchandise, counters, restrooms, fitting rooms and parking to comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. Kmart has also initiated a plan to provide two-way communication devices to customers with disabilities to allow them to ask for help retrieving merchandise, along with a website through which Kmart and the plaintiffs will seek feedback on how the settlement is being implemented.

"It feels great," Lucas said. "I'm thrilled that we are going to have incredible access to Kmart stores in Colorado, across the country and, really, throughout the world."

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.


I can see how people get pissed at people with disabilities.
Its like they find lawyers that will sue for everything.
Yet, one cannot find a lawyer that will sue the state for ADA violations.
This lawyers are nothing but a waste. They are money hungry and only interested in the deep pockets of businesses and organizations.
How many lawyers will line their pockets with money on the backs of a couple of cry babies?
But when you ask the same lawyer to sue the government and they know they cannot get millions they tell you its a waste of time suing the state.
This whole bunch of bull makes me sick!!!
Everyone should rejoice when a business get sued right???
Dead F****N WRONG!!!

I am doing an assignment on mobility disability issues in Australia and world wide. I know now how frustrating accessibility issues can be. I'm glad to see that the court ruled this way!I would like to ask if I can quote part of this in my assignment, giving an American example?!


The ADA has been around for 16 years. This is plenty of time for both privately owned and wealthy corporations alike to become aware of accessibility issues and codes.

If it wasn't for the ADA, I would never have been able to get into the buildings at my former university and earn my college degree. Additionally, I never would have been able to go shopping on my own, go to work, or travel on my own.

Long gone are the days when disabled people will be content to just stay in the house, live off of charity, wilt away and remain silent and ignored. But, in the heart of the matter, I think that is exactly what bothers you the most. The concept of the "Ubermensch" is dead. Get over it!

By the way, the poor grammer and incoherence in your post lead me to believe that you haven't used your own able-bodied legs to climb the stairs of university buildings to get an education.

Dear Catherine:

Congratulations on your eloquent use of your words....they speak highly of you and your intellect. There is just one simple saying to the common folk as you would consider me.......sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never harm me.

I am outraged that there are lawyers that just search out and attack business owners with lawsuits that in fact line their pockets with the all might greens.....you know....Washington, Hamilton, Jackson, Cleveland, Madison, Chase and Wilson.

If it makes me a peasant compared to you than so be it in your eyes. In my eyes, these lawyers that are attacking business owners for the love of money is sickening and despicable.

If you read the article there was a sum of $13 million in damages to shoppers, $3.25 million in legal fees, and a projected $60 million to retrofit 1,400 K-mart stores across the country to make them more accessible to customers with disabilities over the next 7 1/2 years. Yet the award to shoppers range from $50.00 to $8,000. Who got rich? Know math? Figure it out with you almighty college education and eloquent command of history and the English language.

Now take the state and local courts....with the decision of Tennessee v Lane the award was 100,000. Far difference from the above illustration....if you know math that is.

Whatever you feel I really couldn't care less.....I am here because I am 100 percent disabled. I am fighting my own battles which I posted on here in the past. There are no lawyers that are interested in my case. There is no money for them. One hundred thousand dollars is chump change.

I share no rejoice in this decision as I know it was all about greed and not for anything else. There will come a point of time, as is readily evident in NY State Courts, that they do NOT care about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and grossly violate this statute. There are judges that are also frowning upon this statute....and so will the general non disabled public. You can only cry foul for so long.....and you will see a reversion of the ADA like you saw before this act of 1990.....or perhaps your so short sighted by your own self absorbed intellect attitude that you fail to see many of people calling for the repeal and modification of the ADA. "Around the country, business owners, judges and politicians are complaining that employers are being hit with a spray of "drive-by" ADA lawsuits that they say are little more than shakedown attempts by lawyers hoping for a quick cash settlement." http://drizzten.com/blargchives/001154.html

Edward L. Hudgins is director of regulatory studies at the Cato Institute wrote that the ADA should have never passed in its present form.....http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/reg18n2e.html

There is such thing as abuse of the system. And when enough people ban together and present hard evidence of abuse things always change....sometimes for the worse.

Always watch what you wish for.....yes....the ADA has helped many of people....I am in total agreement with this statement....but there is such thing as exploitation.


I agree that the ADA has been terribly exploited by some lawyers and perhaps it should be revised in some areas.

However, the fact remains that the ADA has been on the books for 16 years and there are still wealthy corporations and privately owned business alike that either flagrantly ignore the law or are just not informed of the codes. When anyone starts up a business they should already factor accessibility costs into their budget and bank loans. American building contractors need to do a better job of informing small start-up business owners and corporations of the codes.... and so on. Yes, I agree there is a certain amount of greed on the part of some lawyers, but there continues to be laziness, prejudice and narrow-mindedness on the part of some corporations, state organizations and small business owners when it comes to access for the disabled. It goes both ways, while people with disabilities are stuck between all of them.

Anway, I haven't been reading Ragged Edge very much anymore, so I wasn't aware of your earlier posts or of who you are. I've been reading more of the "Ouch!" disability website over at the BBC. They present a wider variety of views, a far better sense of humor, and more reader participation.