Ms. Wheelchair Sues Businesses Over Access Barriers
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 26, 2005
FREEDOM, WISCONSIN--Her reign as Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2004 was just completed this week, but Gina Hackel is not resting on her laurels.
The pageant winner has recently sued 25 local businesses for failing to comply with federal accessibility requirements under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. A handful of those suits were filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Green Bay.
According to Gene Zweben, a Florida attorney representing Hackel, there are more suits to come.
Zweben told WBAY-TV that Hackel had been to each of the businesses and found many barriers to accessibility. She listed 16 violations of the ADA in one floral shop alone.
"She's been attempting to contact businesses around town that she does go to and are not accessible, and has gotten little or no relief at all," he said.
Zweben, who said his law firm has represented hundreds of suits in several states, told the Post-Crescent that neither he nor Hackel notified the businesses ahead of time about the suits.
"My clients have in the past tried giving notice and working with the businesses, but they got little or no compliance at all from that," he explained.
The suits seek compliance with the federal law, which Zweben said is usually achieved through a court settlement.
"The main goal here is accessibility," said Zweben, who added that Hackel will not receive monetary damages, and that his firm is only seeking reimbursement of costs and attorney's fees.
"Former pageant winner accuses Valley businesses of ADA violations" (Post-Crescent)
"Business Named In ADA Lawsuit" (WLUK-TV)