Thursday, August 11, 2005

Man sues over
wheelchair access

A paraplegic says he was
not given accessible rooms
despite reservations

Paraplegic Thomas Mundy was surprised when he visited Oahu in early 2004 on a vacation and allegedly found there was no wheelchair-accessible room available at his Waikiki hotel, even after he had reserved one online.

"He was extremely distressed and extremely inconvenienced and simply not able to perform the normal life functions that he's able to do in a room," his attorney Thomas Grande said.

Grande filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court yesterday on behalf of Mundy that seeks a class action with other disabled people against the Dallas-based travel service Hotels.com LP.

The lawsuit alleges that Hotels.com did not give the physically disabled the full benefits of its discount travel arrangements, because it failed to set aside a reasonable number of rooms for them, as required since 1992 under the American with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit said more than 22 million adults and children with disabilities, or 77 percent of the disabled, traveled between 2000 and 2002.

"It's really an important case. We all recognize we have to integrate people with disabilities into the community," Grande said.

Grande said the lawsuit is simply saying there ought to be a reasonable allotment of wheelchair-accessible rooms.

He said that under the current reservation process, a person cannot obtain a guarantee that they will get a wheelchair-accessible room and that Hotels.com lists a wheelchair-accessible room as an amenity.

Grande said Mundy, who has since moved to Maui, booked an eight-day vacation to Hawaii starting Jan. 31, 2004.

Because he could not receive a guaranteed wheelchair-accessible room on Hotels.com's Web site, he called its toll-free telephone number, the lawsuit said.

Grande made reservations for two hotel rooms on different days after being told he was guaranteed an accessible room, the lawsuit said.

When he arrived at 8 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2004, he was told there was no accessible room available, and he was given a "non-accessible" room, the lawsuit said.

Hotels.com told him it was out of its hands and to take up the lack of a wheelchair-accessible room with the hotel, the lawsuit said.

Mundy went to the second hotel booked by Hotels.com and was again told there was no accessible room.

Two phone calls made by the Star-Bulletin to Hotels.com were not returned.

E-mail to City Desk


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