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Laurel Park, MoCo centers face ADA suits

A Frederick woman is suing the owners of Laurel Park and three Montgomery County shopping centers for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Deann Walter has been a plaintiff in 35 such cases since 2010, according to court records.

Walter uses a scooter or cane for mobility, according to the most recent lawsuits, all filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and Greenbelt. At each of the locations named in the current actions, she has “experienced serious difficulty accessing the goods and utilizing the services … due to the architectural barriers,” the complaints state.

Since 1990, the ADA has required businesses to remove barriers that discriminate against patrons who have disabilities. Even establishments that predate the act must comply to the extent they can “reasonably” do so.

While the law does not authorize money damages for the plaintiffs, a lawsuit can leave the defendant business liable for legal fees — its own and the plaintiff’s — as well as any needed modifications.

At Laurel Park, Walter encountered barriers to parking, the main entrance, betting counters and restrooms, according to the complaint. At the shopping centers — Aspen Hill Shopping Center in Aspen Hill and Traville Village Center and Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville — Walter found inaccessible parking, pedestrian routes and curb ramps, according to the complaints.

“Removal of the barriers to access located on the Property is readily achievable, reasonably feasible and easily accomplishable without placing an undue burden on the defendant,” each complaint states.

Walter also states in her lawsuits she will come back to the properties as an ADA tester “to determine whether the barriers to access have been remedied.”

Walter is represented by Ku & Mussman P.A., a Miami law firm that specializes in cases promoting access for the disabled, according to its website. A message left with the firm was not returned. Walter is represented locally by Robert King of King & Silverman Attorneys at Law in Olney, who also did not return a message for comment.

Walter has nine other ADA lawsuits pending in federal courts in Maryland. All of the closed cases were settled or voluntarily dismissed.

The cases filed last week are Walter v. Laurel Racing Association Limited Partnership, 1:14-cv-01390-JKB; Walter v. Aspen Hill Venture LLP, 1:14-cv-01392-RDB; Walter v. Traville Center LLC, 8:14-cv-01393-JFM; and Walter v. FG Retail Group LLC, 8:14-cv-01394-PWG.