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Army vet in wheelchair claims Denver business is in violation of ADA

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Posted at 4:23 PM, Jun 23, 2024

AURORA, Colo. — An Aurora woman is raising concerns after she found out that a restaurant in Denver's Cherry Creek North shopping district isn't wheelchair accessible.

Charlotte Vaile is an Army veteran in a wheelchair. Last Monday, she made a reservation at La Merise French Bistro, only to find out when she arrived that the building didn't have a ramp or elevator to help her get past the steep stairs.

Vaile believes that the company isn't in compliance with federal accessibility law, the Americans with Disabilities Act. She said that the restaurant should either remove the stairs, or create a way around them.

"The law is the law," said Vaile. "You must make reasonable accommodations."

After contacting La Merise, a manager told Denver7 that the restaurant didn't have to meet ADA standards because it is a landmark. If a business is a landmark, it is potentially exempt from the ADA. We reached out to the state and are waiting to hear back on the building's landmark status.

Army vet in wheelchair claims Denver business is in violation of ADA

Colorado disability law attorney Kelly McCullough said the ADA established standards for accessibility in 1991 and 2010. The standards apply to all buildings built after those years, but that doesn't mean businesses built before 1991 are exempt.

"It's taken on a case-by-case basis," said McCullough. "There are still requirements for the architecture of the building, including the removal of existing architectural barriers when it is readily achievable.”

A business must remove barriers if it has sufficient funds to complete the task. McCullough said a court determines whether or not the task is achievable, if a complaint or lawsuit is filed.

Vaile said she plans to file a complaint.

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