LAFAYETTE — A wheelchair user filed three federal lawsuits Monday against separate businesses and property owners in Lafayette, including one suit against the owners of the Acadiana Mall and two big retail stores there, claiming the properties are not handicapped-accessible and do not follow guidelines set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Wayne Gilmore, who in court papers lists only St. John the Baptist Parish as his home, also has filed 11 ADA claims against property owners and businesses in Louisiana’s federal Eastern District, which includes New Orleans. Of the 11 lawsuits Gilmore has filed since 2003 in the Eastern District, 10 have been settled for undisclosed amounts of money, court records show.
And in Mississippi, Gilmore has filed seven suits that make the same claims as those in Louisiana. Six of the seven in Mississippi have been settled. In those cases too, settlement amounts were not listed.
Also not in court records is whether the settlements included having the property owners fix the problems cited in the suits to make the stores handicapped-accessible.
Gilmore, paralyzed from his waist down, uses a wheelchair and faces difficulties or outright barriers in getting around the Acadiana Mall, according to the lawsuit filed Monday that also lists Macy’s and J.C. Penney as ADA violators.
The claims listed in the Acadiana Mall suit mirror the 19 other ADA lawsuits that Gilmore has filed.
“During his visits, Mr. Gilmore experienced serious difficulty accessing the goods and utilizing the services … due to the architectural barriers” on the property, according to the suit, filed by Miami attorney Michael Ryan Casey. Casey did not return a message left with his office Wednesday.
Casey is part of the law firm Ku & Mussman, which has filed most of the recent lawsuits for Gilmore in Louisiana, and has filed similar ADA suits for other plaintiffs in other states. It was not immediately clear Wednesday who the attorneys are for the Acadiana Mall, Macy’s and J.C. Penney.
Efforts to reach Gilmore and his Crystal Springs, Mississippi, attorney, John Wimberly Kitchens, were unsuccessful.
A review of the businesses sued by Gilmore shows almost all are big-box structures with multiple retail outlets.
The other two Lafayette property owners sued Monday are: Kimco Properties, which owns the Acadiana Square Shopping Center across Johnston Street from the Acadiana Mall; and Equity One, owner of The Courtyards in the 3600 block of Ambassador Caffery Parkway.