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Oct 15

More Needless Legislation

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Possible foreshadowing for things to come in Ypsilanti.

Plucked from the UPI wire.

Springfield mall sued over Segway ban
Oct 09, 2007
By Sarah Antonacci
GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
SPRINGFIELD

A man who lost his foot in a train accident has sued White Oaks Mall because the mall manager told him last December he couldn’t use his Segway to get around the mall.

Attorneys for Dan Wallace filed the federal lawsuit in May.

The mall’s owner said in documents filed last week that, while they don’t agree the Segway is a “mobility device” for the disabled, they nonetheless have changed policy to permit the use of Segways on mall property. Simon Property Group, which owns White Oaks and nearly 300 other shopping malls in 38 states, is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the documents say.

According to the lawsuit, Wallace believes the case could be a class-action suit because, while Segways were not originally marketed to people with disabilities, 4,000 to 7,000 people now use them as such.

The Segway Personal Transporter is a battery-operated, two-wheeled device that a user stands on, gripping a tall handle and guiding the device by leaning backward, forward or side to side. A series of gyroscopes enables operators to keep their balance. The company says standard speeds are 6 mph for beginners and 12 1/2 mph for more advanced users.

Wallace says in the suit that he lost his foot as the result of a train accident in Staunton in October 1999. He can’t walk farther than a block at a time and, under Simon Property’s Segway ban, couldn’t visit any of the malls Simon owns, the suit says.

The suit says Wallace was shopping at White Oaks on Dec. 27, 2006, and the manager of the mall told him he was not allowed to use the Segway and would have to leave.

When he explained to the manager why he was using the device, the suit says, the manager said Simon’s corporate policy was that the machines were banned even if used because of a disability. Wallace said he was “physically escorted from the mall.”

Simon denies those allegations. The company’s response to the lawsuit contends that Wallace doesn’t have grounds for a class-action suit.

“To the extent any of Simon’s policies and procedures may have prohibited the use of Segways in its malls,” company attorneys said, “they have already been remedied and changed to permit the use of Segways as a mobility aid and the issues are now moot and Simon is compliant with the ADA and its implementing regulations.”

A scheduling conference on the lawsuit is set for the end of this month.

Sarah Antonacci can be reached at (217) 788-1529 or sarah.antonacci@sj-r.com.

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