Man sues to get his miniature horse into Gamestop and Marshalls

“A paraplegic man claims in court that GameStop and Marshalls violated his civil rights by refusing to let him enter their stores with his assistance animal: a miniature horse named Princess who pulls his wheelchair,” Courthouse News Service reports.

For those unaware, the Department of Justice’s latest regulations implementing Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act “ADA”  require hotels, restaurants, stores, and other places of public accommodation to modify “policies, practices, or procedures” to accommodate miniature horses as service animals.  You can read about the miniature horse regulation here.

According to the complaint the stores should have accommodated Princess:

“Princess’ height is 29 inches. Her width is 12 inches. Her length is 31 inches. Her weight is 115 pounds. Plaintiff has been professionally trained to control Princess and can do so without difficulty. Defendants’ facility is large enough to accommodate Princess. Princess is housebroken. Princess’ presence in defendants’ facility does not compromise the legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for its safe operation.”

The folks at  ChipChick, a gaming site, has an interesting take on the lawsuit:

It’s hard to blame the store employees too much – chances are most people in that situation wouldn’t know exactly how to handle something like a miniature horse. I feel like that’s not in the training manual. 

ChipChick is exactly right — most employees wouldn’t know what to do if a customer entered the store with a miniature horse.  That is precisely why the ADA requires employers to train their employees as to what the law requires.

Gamestop’s alleged failure to train its employees is especially disappointing.  (But maybe not all that surprising, most of my experiences there have been miserable —  the prices are high, and their employees always push you to preorder some upcoming title and buy the rewards card).  One would think that Gamestop would be at the forefront of ADA compliance.  The whole appeal of video games is the medium’s ability to transport you beyond the physical limitations of being human.  And as such, a considerable percentage of Gamestop’s consumers are people with disabilities (some studies say as many as 20% of casual gamers have disabilities).   Gamestop should pursue these consumers.  Training their employees on how to accommodate people with disabilities should be a priority — not just because it is the law but because it would be good business.

 

Tiny top hat tip:  Amy W. and Jeff E.

~ by siouxsielaw on March 24, 2012.

6 Responses to “Man sues to get his miniature horse into Gamestop and Marshalls”

  1. Could this be the first ADA case involving miniature horses? Miniature horses as service animals are rare, and it will be very interesting to see how this case plays out in light of the new regulations. Of course, it would be cheaper if the companies agree to settle, pay damages, and promise to provide better training — but who knows?

  2. I’m trying to wrap my head around how this guy transports Princess, parks in the parking lot, gets her out and hitches her up, etc…. They are pretty amazing.

    Yeah, good luck on getting Gamestop to train their employees better. They’d sooner go out of business. Same for most retail stores. I don’t think it’s the employees fault that they don’t know what they’re doing (usually). It comes from the top.

  3. damn..now i want a tiny horse…named princess… that i could possibly train to shepard me about…
    xoxo

  4. While a miniature horse may be an unusual (if awesome!) accommodation for a disability, it shouldn’t really require specific training to deal with. Retailers should probably just train employees that if someone comes in with an animal wearing a bright blue vest with “Service Animal” written in large friendly letters (as I believe service animals are required to where) you should leave them alone.
    I related news, I want a miniature horse and chariot.

  5. Interesting and informative article.

    I had never heard of miniature horses being used as service animals, let alone that it would be covered under ADA and it is useful to know.

    While it is reasonable that a “Mom & Pop” store would not be aware of this and it would be an honest mistake, but big chain stores legal staff to stay on top of regulations and should be more organized in implementing practices and training their employees to comply with current regulations.

  6. Minature horses can be taught to get into a vehicle long as they will fit comfortably.I’ve seen them trained to jump into a back seat of a car.Plus where the average life span of a minature horse live 30 + years.Thats way longer than a service dog lives.Plus they have better peripheral vision due to eyes on side of head.Worlds smallest minnie is Thumbelina she only weighs 60lbs!My black lab weighed 100lbs.You can pick her up and carry her.I have a standard size horse and when i get too old to have a standard size i am getting one of these guys and will house train it.Yes they were in the wrong,shouldve let him in with her.

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