Shopping Center Violated Disabled Toddler’s Civil Rights, According to New Federal Complaint

Today, a federal lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan against Texas companies Spigel Properties, Inc. and S & S Shopping Centers, Ltd. on behalf of two-year-old Claire Dykstra of Wyoming and her parents, Andrew and Hiliary Dysktra.  The Defendants own and manage Rogers Plaza Town Center in Wyoming.  The Complaint alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act (PWDCRA).

Claire and her parents are represented by attorneys Scott A. Noto of The Britt Law Group PC and Theodore J. Westbrook of Westbrook Law PLLC.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in which Claire, who was born with a condition that causes delays in learning to walk, was practicing walking with her grandfather and physical therapist at Rogers Plaza. When she stopped to rest and sat on the floor, the property manager told her sitting on the floor was not allowed. After her grandfather explained her condition and her need to take rest breaks periodically, the manager ordered them to leave and not come back. The incident has been publicized by several local media outlets, including local Fox, ABC, and NBC affiliates. In the lawsuit, Claire’s parents allege violation of ADA and PWDCRA provisions that make it unlawful to discriminate against persons with disabilities in providing public accommodations.

Inquiries regarding the case may be directed to Theodore Westbrook or Scott Noto.

TJW

Police Department Changes Repossession Policy in Response to Civil Rights Lawsuit Brought by Westbrook Law PLLC

When a repossession agent unexpectedly arrived at our client’s home, the client physically intervened to prevent the unlawful repossession from taking place. Then the agent called the police. When City of Wyoming officers responded to the call, they prevented our client from intervening further and told him and the agent that the agent was free to complete the repossession.

Westbrook Law PLLC brought suit in January of 2018 on behalf of the client, alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments by the city and the responding officers. The case, captioned Patterson v. City of Wyoming, ended in a settlement in September of 2018, with the city paying damages as well as implementing a new policy for responding to similar calls.

Due process requires that state actors such as police do not assist with private repossessions without a court order where the vehicle owner disputes the lien holder’s right to repossess the vehicle. This is especially true when the repossession attempt causes a breach of the peace and thereby becomes unlawful under Michigan law. Such a dispute is a civil matter to be resolved in a lawsuit, not a criminal matter, and responding police officers are required to do no more than is necessary to maintain public safety.

If you have had a similar experience with police officers assisting in a repossession, contact us.

TJW