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Veteran Sues Dealership for Denying Loaner Car Over Service Dog

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Clear Facts

  • A Southern California dealership is being sued by a customer for refusing to provide a loaner vehicle due to her service dog.
  • The customer, Teresa Barber, a disabled military veteran with fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder, was initially offered a loaner vehicle until the dealer’s service manager saw her service dog and retracted the offer.
  • Barber filed a lawsuit against the dealership in the Orange County Superior Court, seeking damages and attorney fees under federal and state anti-discrimination laws, alleging violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

A Southern California dealership is facing legal repercussions for denying a loaner vehicle to a customer because of her service dog.

The incident, which took place in October 2023, involved Teresa Barber, a disabled military veteran who relies on her service dog due to her fibromyalgia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Barber had visited BMW of Buena Park to have her vehicle serviced. Initially, the dealership offered her a loaner vehicle, a common practice while a customer’s vehicle is in service.

However, the dealership’s service manager rescinded the offer upon seeing Barber’s service dog, citing a policy against pets in loaner vehicles – a policy that, oddly enough, extends to service animals.

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“Barber attempted to educate the manager that what he was doing was considered discrimination, but the manager would not relent,” the complaint said. Despite Barber’s efforts to explain that her dog was not a pet but a working service animal, the manager persisted in his refusal.

The manager’s actions could be seen as a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Titles II and III of the ADA outline the treatment of disabled individuals and their service animals. Title V, under Transportation, specifies that accommodations must be made for both the disabled person and their service animal.

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According to the ADA, a person traveling with a service animal cannot be denied access to transportation, even if there is a “no pets” policy. The person with a service animal cannot be forced to sit in a particular spot, no additional fees can be charged because the person uses a service animal, and the customer does not have to provide advance notice that they will be traveling with a service animal.

These laws apply to both public and private transportation providers, including subways, fixed-route buses, Paratransit, rail, light-rail, taxicabs, shuttles, and limousine services.

Barber, who was ultimately denied a loaner vehicle, filed a lawsuit against the dealership in the Orange County Superior Court on January 8th. She is seeking “damages and attorney fees under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.”

Despite the incident, Barber expressed in the filing that she would still like to do business with the dealership, provided it “ceases its discriminatory practices.” Both the dealership and Barber’s representing attorney declined to comment to Automotive News on the case.

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Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

The case of Teresa Barber, a disabled military veteran denied a loaner vehicle due to her service dog, is a glaring example of discrimination and ignorance. The dealership’s service manager’s refusal to provide the loaner, despite Barber’s attempt to educate him, highlights the need for better awareness and understanding of the rights of those with disabilities.

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It is disheartening to see such blatant disregard for the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which clearly outlines the treatment of disabled individuals and their service animals. This incident should serve as a reminder to all businesses to review their policies and ensure they are in compliance with ADA regulations.

In a time when we should be celebrating and supporting our veterans, it is appalling to witness such mistreatment. As a society, we must do better to accommodate and respect the needs of those with disabilities and their service animals.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Judy

    March 4, 2024 at 6:45 am

    The dealership clearly is in violation of the law and their HR manager is ultimately to blame. The ADA rules are nothing new and all employees in all businesses must be made aware of and comply with them. This case is a no-brainer

  2. Rick L Pierson

    March 4, 2024 at 7:44 am

    First mistake is being in commiefornia, second mistake is dealing with BMW. Good luck with her case but being in the land of fruits nuts and flakes im sure the dealer will be innocent as she is a veteran and not a member of the alphabet newsome approved mental illness crowd

  3. John

    March 4, 2024 at 7:53 am

    This ADA rule needs to be removed from the act. It is a constant problem for situations like this, as well as ride-share drivers (Uber, Lyft). No one should be able to impose their dog on someone else who has problems with dogs.

    • Daniel Quigley

      March 4, 2024 at 9:25 am

      It’s obvious your completely clueless about this Federal Law. The ADA clearly states a Service Animal not these Morons using emotional support animals can not under Federal Law be told their Animal can not enter any place of business or vehicle under this Federal Law. I hope your next telling someone with a Service Animal that they can’t enter or do something with their Animal. I also hope you own a home and at least 1 million dollars because you’ll be sued and loose everything you own for your blatant discrimination.

      • steven

        March 4, 2024 at 11:13 am

        what service can a dog provide to someone with fibromyalgia. they cannot relieve pain nor drive her to the hospital. so its a fake service dog as usual. a working dog MUST perform an action , her dog is a comfort dog, NOT a working dog.

        • Rayed Johnson

          March 4, 2024 at 12:19 pm

          The dog is a emotional support animal for her PTSD. And to think veterans such as myself put out lives in danger and some gave their lives just so that people like you have the freedom to make such an ignorant response.

    • Johnny

      March 4, 2024 at 2:50 pm

      Sure would be tough if you went blind and needed a service animal. But since this is America everyone is entitled to there opinion.

  4. Daniel Quigley

    March 4, 2024 at 9:40 am

    I wonder how this Disabled Veteran is going to act when she becomes owner of this Dealership. Sadly there are still idiots who think because they own a high end business they can somehow Blatantly Discriminate against the Disabled. I bet the owner of this BMW Dealership has never served in the military and probably neither has anyone in their family. Let this be yet another Legal Lesson of you can not under any circumstance bar a Disabled Individual with a Service Animal. Now had this been 1 of those Emotional support animals the only protection they get is if they are renting they can’t be charged a Animal Fee or be barred from renting a property.

    • Tom Owens

      March 4, 2024 at 10:15 am

      Hope her lawsuit puts the dealership out of business. Her being a disabled vet with a service animal shouldnot only enable her to being able to rent the vehicle, but should make the dealership’s owner proud to be of service to her.

      • Daniel Quigley

        March 4, 2024 at 10:29 am

        Exactly. I’m a 100% Disabled Veteran myself and I’m on the list to obtain a Service Dog. I just hope I live long enough seeing the waiting list is over 10 thousand and that’s not even counting the Civilians on the waiting list. I’ve seen plenty of businesses that go bankrupt over their denial of allowing a Service Animal to enter or use the services of their business. I honestly can’t believe this is still Happening to anyone let alone a Veteran. Maybe add in loss of Citizenship and all benefits Citizenship brings with it if they refuse to allow a Service Animal. Those Emotional support animals only get 2 benefits like they can’t stop you from renting and they can’t charge you for having a Animal. The support animals is getting out of hand as it used to only include dogs. Now they use any animal they can think of just to save a few bucks in rent.

  5. M.A. White

    March 4, 2024 at 1:12 pm

    When I worked in retail, we had several repeat customers with real Service Dogs who were well-behaved and never created any issues. One wore a “service dog in training” sign. As opposed to those who try to get by with yippy little dogs, ferrets, etc. as emotional support animals. They were turned away at the door UNTIL one or 2 complained then they were allowed in. Wild, barked the whole time in the store, etc. Slap in the face to those who have extreme PTSD especially.

  6. Janet Forst

    March 4, 2024 at 1:14 pm

    Shame on the guy who did this. A person doesn’t have to be in a wheelchair to be disabled. I have two doggies and they have helped me immensely.

  7. Geri Calhoun

    March 4, 2024 at 1:54 pm

    I would venture an educated guess that the dealership manager is a follower of Islam who believe that dogs are filthy and, therefore, not allowed in cars or houses. Muslim taxi drivers will not allow service animals in their taxis. This has been documented in Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN. Being a protected class, they can do this, unfortunately.

  8. Frank A Bowers

    March 4, 2024 at 6:52 pm

    As an old army veteran, class of 1937, i have a problem with so many claiming this PTSD? I think that d stands for DRUG ABUSE/USE. Don’t worry I never used them in or out of the service, serving through out Europe-England, France, Germany and several other nations in Europe. Came home and then the Far East experience my over seas due came home clean. How many of these PTSD folks can say the same. PTSD is just a scam to get disability no one can ever prove to me different”

  9. robert eugene williams

    March 6, 2024 at 4:22 pm

    I can remember in my growing up in the military when the Commander could put a business off limits to his command for trying to abuse his personnel. They think they can stick it too the young ones but us old ones know better. Maybe i will recommend that to “TRUMP” when he is back in office.

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