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Is your Family Dollar store a little… unkempt? A Colorado woman says hers is, even though the company’s management has promised to tidy up. So she’s become the latest shopper to sue Family Dollar to try to force it to clean up its act.

Janet Agardy of Dove Creek, Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit against Family Dollar. She’s accusing the retailer of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, by keeping its stores so cluttered that a person in a wheelchair like herself can’t navigate her way through the aisles.

“For years, Defendant’s stores have had a reputation for messy, cluttered aisles that are difficult to navigate, and yet Defendant has done nothing to remedy the problem,” the lawsuit alleges.

Agardy says the aisles in her local store are regularly blocked by “merchandise, merchandise displays, stocking carts, boxes, and/or other items, positioned so that they impermissibly block or narrow the aisle pathways.” The lawsuit helpfully includes photos taken at various Family Dollar stores in the area, two of which are reproduced above. Agardy says she has complained to store management, the district manager and the corporate office, to no avail. Dove Creek, Agardy explains, is a small community with less than a thousand residents and few places to shop. So she is – or would like to be – a regular Family Dollar shopper. But she can’t.

So she’s resorted to litigation, arguing that the unnavigable aisles violate the ADA and illegally deny Agardy equal access to the store that others enjoy.

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The lawsuit states that the ADA requires all facilities that are open to the public to be “readily accessible” to individuals who use wheelchairs or scooters. Not only is Agardy’s local Family Dollar store not accessible, the lawsuit argues, but the retailer keeps it that way on purpose.

“This practice is intentional, and driven by a calculated judgment that impeding interior paths of travel increases sales revenue and profits,” the lawsuit alleges. “This is a case about putting profit ahead of the rights of people with disabilities.”

Agardy’s lawsuit is similar to one filed earlier this year by a Dollar General shopper in Pennsylvania, who accused that dollar store chain of violating the ADA with “fixed pillars in the middle of shopping aisles, shopping/stocking carts positioned so that they block or narrow the aisle pathways, and merchandise displays positioned so that they block or narrow the aisle pathways.”

Both plaintiffs are represented by the same law firm, which specializes in Americans with Disabilities cases. That same firm also filed a nearly identically-worded case against Family Dollar on behalf of another Pennsylvania plaintiff over the summer. The firm may have been emboldened to sue Family Dollar again, after the state of Rhode Island announced in September that Family Dollar agreed to pay a civil penalty of $7,500 and bring all of its stores in that state into compliance with the ADA.

The lawsuits, and the Rhode Island settlement, come after the company’s CEO last year promised “meaningful change at Family Dollar,” including “cleaner stores” and “better customer service.” When Dollar Tree acquired Family Dollar several years ago, CEO Gary Philbin said he realized that the stores needed to be decluttered and cleaned up. But he later acknowledged that the stores needed more than just a little spiffing up. “We have to do renovations,” he said. “That is a little clearer to me than when we started out.” So the company has launched an effort to completely renovate more than a thousand of Family Dollar’s 8,000+ locations.

But it’s not happening fast enough for a couple of shoppers in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Both are seeking damages and permanent injunctions forcing the Family Dollar stores in their states to clean up their aisles and make their stores accessible to everyone. And if the plaintiffs succeed, these lawsuits demanding that Family Dollar declutter their stores, may not be the last.

2 Comments

  1. These stores are not only messy, they’re disgusting. They look like someone’s garage with dust and dirt all over everything. Dollar tree is even worse.

  2. Pingback: For shame, Family Dollar - deranged.mederanged.me

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