File this under Bitter Lawyer’s lawsuit of the week. A New York man brought a civil rights claim against White Castle last week, claiming the restaurant chain
made him fat did not reasonably accommodate his own White Castle legacy. While the complaint really doesn’t say what disability or impairment the man has, you can infer it is one of two things: 1) he is a large man or 2) he attends both Yankees and Mets games. It may be a combination of both, but from what we can best determine it’s a claim of being too big to fit into a White Castle restaurant booth.
Before we get started, here’s the complaint to review. As a tip, skip over the legal mumbo jumbo and go straight to the exhibits, a series of letters between the plaintiff and White Castle. Here’s the pertinent text of the plaintiff’s letter, which lays out the origin of the dispute:
On approximately April 20, 2009 I stopped into the White Castle in Nanuet, New York to have a fast meal before I went to see a client and ordered my traditional #2 combination. I got my meal and went to sit down; I could not slide into the booth-style seating that was there– that was embarrassing enough as there were a lot of people looking at my predicament. As I looked around the restaurant, I saw that there were no tables and chairs that could accommodate a person that merely wanted to sit down and eat his meaL I am 6 Feet and weigh 290 pounds–I played football, fly on regular airlines and attend Yankee and Met games!
White Castle sent back letters in response, which apparently made matters worse for the plaintiff, who appeared insulted, and for good reason:
The corporate letters had the nerve to send me a list of White Castles nationwide so I could see which ones had been renovated up to scale. What a joke!!!! Furthermore, to smoothe [sic] things over, in each letter was a coupon for three free hamburgers -but cheese was extra!! How nice can you be? My wife went and picked up the burgers -she paid the surcharge for the cheese and brought them home for us to share, because I did not want to set foot into the store. Any subsequent trips to the store have been made by my wife -I have been like an outcast.
We have a question about the legal merits that we’ll present to readers, but here’s a simple lesson and some free legal counsel to you corporate bubs out there. When you get a written complaint that uses the term “redress” and has more than five exclamation points along with it, comp the cheese. Just give the guy the cheese. Honestly, you already know he’s been ordering the White Castle #2 sack meal for 52 years, which consists of two double cheeseburgers, a medium fry and a small drink. Why would you comp him three hamburgers without cheese? That’s just a federal lawsuit waiting to happen.
As to the merits, well, cheese may not be the only thing missing, but we cannot quite put our hands on it. It’s like our mind is disabled or something, like we’re impaired. Anyway, pretend it’s Monday (which it is). A partner walks into your office, hands you the file of Kessman v. White Castle, and says “get rid of it.” What do you do?