The U.S. Justice Department today announced the settlement of an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) discrimination lawsuit against Wales West LLC, owner and operator of Wales West RV Resort and Train and Garden Lovers Family Park in Silverhill, Ala. The settlement, embodied in a consent decree, was approved today by Judge Callie V.S. Granade in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
In its complaint, the Justice Department alleged that Wales West violated Title III of the ADA when it unlawfully denied full and equal services to a child and his family because the child has HIV. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Wales West, upon learning that a guest family’s 2-year-old child has HIV, banned the family from using the common areas of the RV resort, such as the swimming pool and showers. The child’s parents had planned a month-long stay at the family-themed RV resort while the father commuted to nearby Mobile, Ala., for ongoing cancer treatment. After Wales West denied them full use of the facilities, the family left early the next morning.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Wales West will establish policies, procedures and training practices to ensure that patrons and their families are not discriminated against on the basis of disability. Wales West will pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States and $36,000 in damages to the affected family.
“Ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not subjected to discriminatory, stigmatizing treatment based on unfounded fears and stereotypes is critically important. The ADA protects individuals with HIV and other disabilities from this kind of discrimination,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division.
“Our office is dedicated to providing equal protection of the laws by ensuring equal access to accommodations for those with impairments or disabilities,” said Kenyen R. Brown, U. S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama. “Whether it is discrimination against families in a mobile home park, improper lending practices at a bank or other issues regarding fairness, we fully intend to bring cases each time we learn of wrongful discrimination.”
Title III of the ADA prohibits public accommodations, such as Wales West, from excluding people with disabilities, including people with HIV, from enjoying the services, goods and accommodations provided by the public accommodation.
A Baldwin County, Ala., resort illegally denied access to a 2-year-old HIV-positive boy in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to civil allegations made by the U.S. Justice Department.
The Justice Department seeks an order from a federal judge in Mobile, Ala., prohibiting Wales West RV Resort and Train & Garden Lovers Family Park near Silverhill from discriminating on the basis of disabilities, a civil fine and unspecified damages to the child and his mother, according to the Mobile Press-Register.
An attorney for Wales West denied the allegations.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sonja Bivins this week set a preliminary scheduling order and instructed the lawyers to negotiate a procedure for questioning witnesses and exchanging documents.
The lawsuit states that Silvia and Charles “Dick” Glover reserved an RV campsite at the resort for July 2007. Several hours after they had set up camp, the resort’s manager told Dick Glover this his foster son, Caleb, could not use the pool, showers or other facilities because he has HIV, the disease that causes AIDS.
“Because Caleb could not use the common facilities, the Glovers were forced to leave Wales West RV Resort,” the suit states.
The park’s attorney, Frank Parker Jr., said the resort’s manager asked only that the boy voluntarily stay out of the water until he could learn more about the child’s medical condition. Parker said resort owner Ken Zadnichek offered to let the family stay for free.
“Mr. Zadnichek didn’t do anything wrong,” Parker said. “He never asked them to leave the park.”