California Man Sues Edward Jones over Wheelchair Accessibility
Edward D. Jones & Co. was sued on Wednesday in federal court over claims that one of its California offices is inaccessible to wheelchair-bound individuals.
Guy Fairon, who describes himself as “an individual with a mobility disability who is at times dependent upon a wheelchair,” claims that a Jones branch in Huntington Beach has a steep curb ramp around the sidewalk that is in excess of the 2% maximum grade allowed by the Americans with Disability Act’s accessibility guidelines.
He discovered the barrier when he attempted to visit the branch for “investment information” in July, according to the complaint that was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. The lawsuit does not directly say whether Fairon is an Edward Jones client, but notes that he would like to continue to do business with the firm because of its location.
“Defendants have been previously put on actual or constructive notice that the business is inaccessible to Plaintiff,” said the lawsuit, which names Edward Jones and DRT Investments, LLC, the owner of the Beach Boulevard building housing the branch, as plaintiffs.
Fairon seeks an injunction requiring removal of the barrier as well as actual and “deterrence damages” based on alleged violations of the federal ADA law and the California Civil Rights Act.
A branch office administrator for Ryan T. Omoto, the Jones advisor who works at the Beach Boulevard branch, referred calls to the firm’s corporate communications department.
“We are currently reviewing the complaint and can’t comment further,” John Boul, an Edward Jones spokesman, wrote in an email.
Fairon has filed at least nine other ADA accessibility complaints since July in the same court against local businesses and national chains, including Starbucks, according to court records. Edward Jones is the only financial services industry defendant.
Timothy G. McFarlin, a lawyer representing Fairon, did not return a call for comment, and Fairon could not be reached.
A lawyer who represented DRT Investments in a similar case last year declined to comment. The earlier case, involving access to another property, was voluntarily dismissed, with each party bearing their own court costs, according to court filings.
U.S companies, including banks and brokers, have been fielding a flood of lawsuits claimed access violations since the Trump administration withdrew rule-making proposals from the Obama-era Department of Justice aimed at clarifying terms of the federal disabilities law. TD Ameritrade earlier this month reached an agreement in principle with a blind customer that would require it to redesign some of its web pages to make them accessible to the visually impaired. The plaintiff dropped her request for class-action certification.