Blind teen alleges Rhode Island eatery violated her rights

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A blind Rhode Island teen and her family have filed a lawsuit with the Providence County Superior Court against a restaurant they say refused to seat them due to the presence of the teen’s service dog.

Haylee Mota and her family intended to celebrate her 17th birthday at Jacky’s Waterplace and Sushi Bar on September 7, the Providence Journal reported.

According to the complaint, an employee told them they could not be seated inside the restaurant or in the patio area and offered to set a table in the parking lot.

Mota was born with Leber’s congenital amaurosis and is legally blind. She can only see light and shadow. Her golden retriever, Nicky, accompanies her everywhere.


Mota said that after the family protested, pointing out that Nicky is a service dog, the manager told them that she had spoken with the owner, Kin Wah Ko, and that he insisted on no dogs.

Mota alleges that Ko and unnamed employees violated her civil rights by discriminating against her due to her disability. In addition, she alleges that the restaurant and its employees intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon her and that she suffered mental and emotional harm.

“It was frustrating,” Mota said. “I know my rights under the (Americans with Disabilities Act). Any establishment open to the public is open to a service dog.”

Jacky’s and Ko denied the allegations in responding to the suit. They argue that Mota failed to make a claim for which relief could be granted and failed to comply with her duty to mitigate damages.

David Ursillo, the lawyer representing Jacky’s and Ko, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

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