Lawsuit: Rogers Plaza discriminated against girl with disability

Posted at 12:28 PM, Feb 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-07 13:45:39-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The family of a 2-year-old girl who was asked to leave Rogers Plaza for sitting on the ground has filed a lawsuit against the shopping center.

Claire Dykstra was born missing a part of her brain and was going to the mall once a week with her grandfather and physical therapist to practice walking.

On Dec. 13, the group was asked to leave by a mall manager because Claire was sitting on the ground, which ownership said was a safety risk for other people.

The lawsuit claims the mall discriminated against Claire because she has a disability, and that she had been doing physical therapy exercises at Rogers Plaza for months before the Dec. 13 incident.

It is alleged that the employee who asked the family to leave had confronted the family on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 about Claire sitting on the floor, and the final confrontation escalated after Claire’s grandfather explained her disability and why she was on the floor.

The lawsuit cites the mall as a place where people frequently go for therapeutic exercise, and says people waiting for the Secretary of State branch in the mall have sat on the floor. It says the mall hasn’t asked able-bodied people to stop walking around or sitting down.

Legal representation for Spiegel Properties Inc., the Texas-based company that owns Rogers Plaza, previously told FOX 17 that children being on the floor poses a safety risk and the mall isn’t a place for physical therapy.

Claire has since returned to the mall with dozens of supporters for an organized walk.