Pardon Him, He's a Little Horse
LOS ANGELES (CN) - 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.
Jose Estrada sued GameStop and Marshalls in separate complaints in Superior Court, claiming they denied him and Princess access to their stores in Downey last month.
Estrada, who says he "has been a paraplegic, confined to a wheelchair, and suffering from overuse syndrome of the elbows, shoulders, and wrists," seeks injunctions and damages of $4,000 from each store.
"Plaintiff's miniature horse, Princess, has been individually trained and certified by a professional trainer to assist him by pulling him in his wheelchair," the complaint against GameStop states. "The training further consisted of behavior modification, leading and heeling, turning on forehand and haunches, sidepassing, laying down on command, standing still, entering a handicapped-accessible van and confined spaces, and desensitization."
Estrada says that both stores "refused to permit said animal to accompany plaintiff therein, even though they were told that the animal in question was a service animal."
The complaint adds: "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."
Estrada seeks damages for violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
Estrada's attorney Morse Mehrban of Sherman Oaks told Courthouse News that neither business was in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"They haven't been training their employees efficiently to be knowledgeable about people with service animals," Mehrban said in an interview. "But the ADA requires that you implement a policy and train your staff regarding admission of service animals into your place of business. Including miniature horses."
"Miniature horses are not pets," Mehrban added. "They're specifically trained to assist a disabled person."
Neither GameStop nor Marshalls immediately responded to requests for comment.