Lawsuit: drive-through-only hours at McDonald’s violate ADA

Scott Magee of Louisiana has sued McDonald’s, saying that its policy at some outlets of keeping a late-night drive-through window open after regular restaurant doors are locked violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by unlawfully excluding blind persons who cannot operate a vehicle. [Sun-Times/WMAQ, Chicago]


  • I don’t know why an employee would turn people away from a drive through window. That’s just dumb. If it’s open, it’s open.

  • According to commenters on one version of this story, restaurants forbid customers on foot from using drive-through lanes because there’s seen as being a heightened risk of accidental injury. A restaurant worker cited it as being a rule required by the restaurant’s insurance company.

  • As well, it’s far easier to catch someone who robbed a place or injured a worker by tracing a license plate than by attempting to identify a face through surveillance camera.

  • Back when I was in college, I offered to make car noises while my girlfriend ordered… She declined. She did later agree to marry this crazy blind man. And we even got a car. It was funny at the time, and we just went to krispy kreme instead since they were open 24/7.
    So this is a problem both with economics as well as disability. After all, no car keeps you out of the line just as much as any disability.

  • And when Mr. Magee gets run over by a car load of liquored up college students while standing in the “drive-up lane” at two o’clock in the morning, he will no doubt sue to eliminate all motor vehicles from the “drive-thru lane” providing further evidence that the ADA remains in the running for the worst piece of legislation evah!

  • I was refused service years ago at a Jack-in-the-Box in California when I arrived in the drive-through lane on my bicycle. They said they only served customers in cars.

  • I have been irritated from time to time at not being able to pick up food from windows.

    The fairest solution might be: (1) pedestrian and bicyclist customers can only collect for injuries on a limited cost basis ( eg workmen’s comp) and only if the other party (driver) is at fault. (2) The plaintiff must sue the driver, not the drive-in. Only if the the driver is uninsured and insolvent could they sue the drive-in for limited economic damages.

    • Oh, how I love a good joke early in the morning!

      1. Your car insurance already covers this sort of accident,
      2. Who has deeper pockets, me or McDonalds?

  • Magee’s brother Emmett, who is also represented by Costales, last year sued Coca-Cola in Louisiana in a similar case about soda machines. Though that case was thrown out, it is now being appealed.


  • If the Democrats push through the super minimum wage next year, a lot more eateries will seek to shut their indoor counters and dining areas. ( The most recent one I saw was in Seattle.)

    A safe solution for pedestrian customers might involve sticking the automobile service window out four feet. Its lee would shelter a sidewalk approach for pedestrians to their own pickup window at a 90 degree angle to the automobile one.

    • Hugo,

      This is a discussion based on the idea of ADA compliance, not the economics of the design or services offered by the restaurant.

      If a restaurant wants to offer walk up service, that is great. They shouldn’t be forced to do so as with walkups, the risk to the restaurant and to employees increases.

      The choice should be that of the business owner, and not mandated or forced upon the restaurant by the government.

  • @gc–
    My impression is that the main risk of pedestrian customers (the one zeroed in on by insurance companies) is that they will sue the restaurant if hit by a driver. My leeward sidewalk and window proposal would eliminate that problem, at least if backed up by some legislative support.

    There are political tradeoffs involved, whether pedestrian customers are worth recruiting as allies.

    • Hugo,

      I know that you are pushing your idea from a certain point of view. However, that being said, I see your solution as not being economically feasible and in fact, economically prohibitive.

      You talk about a 4 foot leeward sidewalk as if it can be created out of thin air. Where exactly do you want the square footage for this to come from? As the sidewalk is going to have to run down the side of the building, you are going to either have to take space from the building and leave the drive through lanes intact or move the drive through lanes over 4 feet the length of the building which gets into traffic for the non drive through cars as well as the parking areas. (And we haven’t even talked about the costs of extending the building to support the window out which is going to have to be a lot of money as well.) Either way the reconstruction of the areas is going to be a lot of money and for what? $20 in sales per hour for 2 hours a night?

      Once again, to me, this is a case of let the businesses decide. If they want to take off valuable dining room and prep space for your idea, great. Or if they want to use their business acumen to decide the best use of space to maximize income and profit, some chowderhead in some legislative body should not tell the business they have to do this.

  • When did they stop serving pedestrians at drive-throughs? I remember doing exactly that, around 20 years ago on my first visit to the USA. Admittedly, I have not tried walking through a drive-through since, but it certainly used to be possible.

    • I’ve been refused service at a drive through while on my motorcycle. Tough for me. Guess I should have gotten a lawyer and brought another frivolous lawsuit.

      Hey blind guy – if you’re craving Taco Bell that badly, Uber.