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Worse Than Rude, Black Man Tells Amtrak

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (CN) - Amtrak employees shoved a disabled black man off a train onto the platform, then departed on the train as he suffered a grand mal seizure, he claims in court.

Reynaldo Alfonso sued National Railroad Passenger Corporation dba Amtrak on Nov. 18 in Kern County Court.

Alfonso says he suffers from seizures and needs to travel with a service dog, for which he has all the proper documentation. Alfonso went to the Bakersfield Amtrak station on April 22, 2014, to go to San Francisco. As usual, his service dog was with him.

He got on the train and was standing in the entryway when two Amtrak employees approached him as the doors were closing. He showed his ticket and the papers for his service dog, but the employee ignored both documents, Alfonso says.

"(I)mmediately after Alfonso offered his service dog papers and his train ticket to be punched, the Doe employee who was standing inside the train began to push Alfonso off the train to force him off the train," the complaint states.

Alfonso says the other employee, who was standing outside the doors, simultaneously "began to pull on Alfonso to force him off the train."

"As a result of being forcefully pushed and pulled simultaneously off the train, Alfonso fell to the ground on the train platform ... [and] began suffering what was later diagnosed as a grand mal seizure," the complaint states.

Alfonso claims that none of the Amtrak employees who saw him fall came to help him. They all "departed on the train while Alfonso was lying on the ground experiencing the seizure," according to the complaint.

He says the ordeal cost him "extreme embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, and physical harm."

He claims Amtrak's employees discriminated against him because he is African American, has dark skin, and is noticeably disabled due to his service dog.

Amtrak does not comment on pending litigation.

Alfonso seeks statutory and punitive damages for 11 causes of action, including assault, battery, civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, and common carrier negligence.

He is represented by Kevin Lawless with Childers & Associates of El Centro, who did not immediately return an emailed request for comment Monday afternoon.

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