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Monday, January 20, 2020

Extra charges on P.F. Chang's gluten-free dishes violate disability law, class action says

By Legal News Line | Jan 30, 2015

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - A California woman recently filed a lawsuit charging a restaurant chain with discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Anna Marie Phillips sued P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Dec. 9 in Santa Clara County Superior Court. It asserts that the restaurant violates civil and disability rights by forcing gluten-free diners to pay higher prices.

Although P.F. Chang’s well-publicized gluten-free menu charges one additional dollar per item, it doesn’t add surcharges for accommodations on its regular menu items, the complaint says.

The class action suit states that because a gluten-free diet is medically necessary for individuals with celiac disease, gluten-free patrons have no choice but to order at the higher price.

Surcharges for gluten-free items are claimed to occur even where the items at issue may naturally be gluten free, such as vegetable dishes, the complaint says.

Asserting arbitrary and unequal treatment, the paintiff contends that P.F. Chang’s discriminates against consumers with celiac disease and gluten intolerance; and that by adding a surcharge, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Phillips brings suit on behalf of persons with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who ordered items from P.F. Chang’s gluten-free menu in California within four years prior to the suit.

According to papers filed, the number of class members has been calculated to be more than 3,000. P.F. Chang’s operates 204 restaurants in 39 states, with eight in Northern California.

The plaintiff seeks an injunction against further surcharges; restitution for the surcharges paid for gluten-free items; civil penalties; compensatory damages; and punitive damages.

Phillips is represented by Anthony J. Orshansky and Justin Kachadoorian of Counselone, P.C. in Beverly Hills, Calif. The defendant is represented by Jon P. Karbassakis and Michael K. Grimaldi of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, of Los Angeles.

The defendant removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Jan. 23.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California case number 5:15-cv-00344

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