WESTLAND, Mich., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The owners of a Michigan buffet restaurant are being sued in federal court for allegedly kicking out a family whose children suffer from a rare skin disorder.
A lawsuit filed Wednesday against a Westland Golden Corral alleges the restaurant's owners, Kirit and Shakuntla Patel, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to serve the family, The Detroit News reported.
The lawsuit stems from May 2011 when Danielle Duford, 37, and her four children went to the restaurant for dinner.
Three of Duford's children suffer suffer from epidermolysis bullosa, a rare skin disorder that causes blisters from the slightest touch.
The lawsuit alleges that restaurant manager David Robinson approached the family and asked Duford "What is wrong with your baby?" Duford said nothing was wrong and informed the manager about the skin disease.
"She has scabs all over, so obviously there is something wrong with her," Robinson allegedly said, adding that the restaurant had "a right to ask what's wrong if it concerns our customers and is contagious."
Robinson then allegedly told Duford her the family was making other customers uncomfortable and that they had to leave.
Duford's husband, Matthew Cripps, arrived at the restaurant and complained to the manager.
"The manager stated that he had a right to expel anyone from the restaurant that he wished, and demanded that Mr. Cripps leave the restaurant," the lawsuit stated. "When Mr. Cripps refused, the manager called the police, who arrived on the scene but made no arrests."
The lawsuit is seeking a money judgment for the family, as well as a $55,000 civil penalty against the owners.
"The promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act is that disabled citizens should have full access to public life," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement Wednesday. "We hope that this lawsuit will assist in expanding people's understanding of the range of disabilities and the obligations to treat all disabled citizens fairly under the law."
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