Kum & Go convenience store chain agrees to spend millions to settle disabilities lawsuit

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Kum & Go convenience store chain agreed Thursday to spend millions of dollars to make changes at more than 400 stores in 11 states to settle a lawsuit that claimed its gas stations failed to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The class-action lawsuit — filed by an Iowa man who uses a wheelchair — alleged the company failed to provide fuel dispensers with operable controls at an appropriate height, didn’t provide accessible parking spaces of an appropriate width and in an appropriate location, and otherwise failed to comply with the ADA.

The West Des Moines-based company does not admit the violations but agreed to make modifications at its stores. The privately held company would not say exactly how much it would spend.

“We have invested, and will continue to invest, substantial sums to improve accessibility at our stores, and in some instances have agreed to offer accessibility options that exceed those required by law,” company spokeswoman Traci Rodemeyer said in a statement.

Modifications the company will make include installing fuel assistance calling devices at gas pumps, relocated fuel pump controls, moving parking spaces for disabled customers near store entrances, widening the spaces to comply with ADA standards and assuring that signs are at appropriate height and location.

The lawsuit was filed in April 2013 as a class-action case by Gary McDermott, of Clinton, on behalf of all Kum & Go customers who use wheelchairs or scooters for mobility.

“Kum & Go has committed to addressing a number of the concerns that Mr. McDermott had about access in their stores and in some instances they have agreed to take steps that go beyond what the Americans With Disabilities Act requires,” said McDermott’s attorney, Tim Semelroth.

The settlement specifies the company will bring 100 stores into compliance within two years and 75 additional stores each year until modifications are made at all stores.

Other changes will include reviewing and modifying curb ramps, entrances and doors, and the location of self-service food and drink items. Interior store aisles also will be adjusted to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, and employees will be trained on the needs of customers with disabilities.

The company operates 430 stores in Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The settlement agreement pays McDermott’s attorneys $137,500 and court costs of $20,728. McDermott was awarded $15,000 as the class representative.

U.S. District Judge Charles Wolle approved the agreement Thursday.