Hattiesburg restaurant agrees to pay damages for treatment of patron with service dog

Hattiesburg restaurant agrees to pay damages for treatment of patron with service dog

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg restaurant has now agreed to pay damages to a patron for the treatment they received for having a service dog.

According to the Department of Justice, on Sept. 11, 2013, Vickie Killingsworth, accompanied by her service dog, entered the Grand China Buffet and asked to be seated.

The hostess then told the patron that no dogs were allowed, and asked her to leave, according to a news release issued by the Department of Justice.

Killingsworth told the hostess that she was mobility impaired, and that the dog was a service animal. She then informed the hostess that she had a right to be seated and treated as all other patrons, according to the release.

Eventually, the staff allowed her and her dog to sit down, but were isolated from other customers after being sat in a corner.

According to the release, when Killingsworth went to leave, a staff member told her, "Next time, no dog."

Killingsworth then said that she tried to again explain the law regarding service animals, but  the staff member angrily told her to leave.

Grand China Buffet Restaurant and its owner, Zhen Fei Chen, have entered into a settlement agreement with the United States following an investigation conducted by the U. S. Attorney's Office, according to the release.

The investigation concluded that Killingsworth had been denied her civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act as the result of the treatment she received while at the restaurant, according to the release.

Killingsworth was paid $2,500 in compensatory damages by the restaurant, and a civil penalty of $500 was paid to the United States in order to partially vindicate the public interest.

The restaurant was also ordered to undergo specific training regarding customers with service animals, and that appropriate signage be posted on the exterior entrances alerting persons accompanied by their service animals that they are welcomed.