Georgetown University student Taylor Price, who uses a wheelchair, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday September 9, 2009 against M Street bar Mr. Smith's of Georgetown, citing discriminatory treatment that purportedly occurred in January. Venable, along with the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, is providing pro bono representation to Price in this matter.
Coverage of the case first appeared in Georgetown University's campus newspaper, The Hoya. It subsequently ran on the University News Wire, NewsChannel 8 and WUSA 9 News.
The filed lawsuit alleges that Mr. Smith's violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that bans disability-based discrimination in public accommodations, and the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on disability and other factors.
According to documents filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, Price entered the bar between 11:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Near the front of the bar, he and his friends were stopped by the manager, who refused to allow Price to go any further. The manager claimed that the bar was overcrowded and Price was a fire hazard.
"All of us are equal and entitled to equal treatment…this particular title of the [Americans with Disabilities Act]...says that you cannot discriminate," said Doug Baldridge, a litigation partner at Venable and lead counsel for Price's case. "And that is precisely what happened here."
According to Baldridge, Price and his legal team have not looked into rectifying the situation through monetary means. "Our primary concern is to make sure that, without limiting any rights we have, this doesn't happen again," Baldridge said.