Overweight Man Sues White Castle for Not Having Size-Appropriate Seating, Claims Disability

Categories: Fuming Foodie
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A 290-pound man is suing White Castle because the seats at the iconic fast-food restaurant are too small. I sit here shaking my head because I'm almost at a loss for words. Almost.

First, let me share what I know so far. The man, a faithful customer of a White Castle located in Nanuet, New York, has experienced difficulty trying to fit into the booths at the restaurant -- even hurting himself -- according to an article in the New York Post.

After the incident, he wrote to White Castle headquarters to complain about the uncomfortable situation. He was rewarded with three "very condescending letters" that included coupons for free burgers -- cheese not included, in case anyone cares.

Disheartened, Martin Kessman sent his wife to pick up the free burgers and all subsequent White Castle meals he has consumed since. Apart from sending the coupons, White Castle stated in the letters that seating changes would be made to accommodate people with above-average girth.

According to Kessman, the correspondence from headquarters included "specs and everything, about how the booths were going to be enlarged and made comfortable for people with a little more weight... two and a half years went by, and nothing was done." The issue, according to Kessman, is that the average-size booths are a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act and a violation of his civil rights.

Again, I sit here shaking my head. What's next? Should everything be made supersize so obese people can feel normal? Why are people OK with forcing companies and governments to accommodate morbidly obese people but not OK with forcing companies to eliminate trans fats, eliminate free toys with kids' meals at fast-food restaurants, and implement other initiatives to force the food industry to make our food more healthful and less fattening?

The reason, my friends, is because as a nation we expect accommodations to be made for us when we screw up -- like a kid who throws a tantrum and gets some candy or a handheld videogame to shut him up, instead of getting everything taken away from him.

It's not right. Keep in mind that I don't think it's right for airlines to charge fat people extra for tickets, and I don't think it's right that some clothing companies charge more for bigger sizes either. But I do think it's wrong for a person who has made himself so big that he cannot sit comfortably in a restaurant to expect that restaurant to invest money and change the entire blueprint of its dining room to accommodate him.

I'm heavy, overweight, fat, obese, you name it. At my heaviest, I would get winded bending over to tie my shoes. At my heaviest, I still fit into the seats of theme park and carnival rides, but there were a few restaurant booths that pushed uncomfortably into my enormous gut. I didn't take issue with the restaurants or with my shoes. The target of my anger was myself for getting to the point where everyday activities had become difficult or impossible.

Obese people are "disabled" only by a stretch of the imagination. Are their daily activities impaired? Yes. Are they uncomfortable performing normal activities such as tying their shoes or walking up a flight of steps? Probably. But why? They don't have cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy; instead they ate their way to a disability. Obese people calling themselves disabled should be ashamed of themselves. They degrade the truly disabled who struggle every day without a choice.

Again I ask -- what's next? Most roller coasters can't accommodate really heavy people. Are we going to force Disney World and Universal Studios to dismantle their rides and spend millions (many, many millions) creating new, fat-friendly rides? Will we reinforce horses with metal legs so they can carry really obese people without their legs splaying? Will we, as individuals, be responsible for making sure our homes have fat-friendly furniture?

The future I'm speculating about sounds preposterous, doesn't it?

My point exactly.

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This is a great article and your opinion was very just. I don't think anyone should pay extra for an airplane seat, for being heavy. Airlines should provide a few large seats to accommodate obese people. Most retailers don't charge extra for bigger sizes because they are wise, and realize that the more items they sell will raise their sales, thereby earning them more money, than if they just sold the smaller sizes. That's why they swallow the small cost, but add on more buyers. Designers like Tommy Hillfiger, Ralph Lauren, and other big names create designs for overweight customers. As you said, it's not fair to change everything just because of a few. It's too costly and everyone will end up paying much more. It's not fair to the business or to other customers. New businesses should keep in mind that not everyone is standard size and have some booths and chairs to accommodate their heavier customers, so they don't go somewhere else. And the fast food industry should not take away their toys. They can look into having 0 trans fat, and a healthier menu.

Dave Akins
Dave Akins

I agree with you on this, but disagree with your stance on the other items you mentioned.  Namely, charging obese people for 2 seats on an airplane.  As a normal weight person, I should not have to sit next to someone that can't even put down the armrest, and if they can, still ooze over into my seat.  If supersize people can't fit into one seat, they should be given a choice - either pay for an extra seat, or find another obese person to sit next to. As for the clothes - that's their business.  If they feel a need to charge more because they use twice as much material as for the clothes for normally sized people, then that's a business decision. The ADA is intended to help people with disabilities that are no fault of their own, not ones that are a result of poor choices.

John Smith
John Smith

Get your burgers to go.

As a skinny person, I'm irritated by booths that have the tables too far away from the seat (presumably to accomodate bigger people), so I feel like I'm a 5 year old sitting at the adult's table.   The long reach is tiresome and my dining experience is impeded, can I sue?

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

I'll admit that on the airplane seating thing, I'm not adamant about people that are too big for one seat being made to purchase two seats. My opinion is based more on a matter of arbitrary issues that would arise. Such as -- who and what would decide if a person is required to buy two tickets? It can't be weight (as in pounds) because variables like height, muscle mass, and body proportions, make that a moot factor. Would there be a sample airplane seat in the check-in area the way that there is that little sample carry-on space to measure your carry-on bag? Would people then have to sit in that chair to gauge whether they "fit" or not? And who would decide? It seems like one giant mess. I can see your point where someone should have to buy two seats if they don't fit comfortably in one, it's the logistics I see as the main problem.

As for clothes, I know it's a business decision, but I don't see it as fair. If they reduced the price of sizes zero through eight maybe (smaller than average) I would see it as fair. The fact is that the extra material they use on XL and up, they save on sizes zero through eight, more or less. But this isn't just a way to recuperate the cost for extra fabric, it's a way to squeeze extra money out of the consumer and if small sizes don't get a discount over medium sizes, then large sizes shouldn't cost more, in my opinion.

And I agree wholeheartedly with your last statement. The ADA is intended to protect those who have no choice over being disabled, not those of us who bring it on ourselves. 

Ily Goyanes
Ily Goyanes

I know what you mean. Even being overweight, I've experienced the same thing, and if it makes me feel like I'm floating in space, I can just imagine how you feel. 

Foodie #1
Foodie #1

Oh, come on.. if you go to any place to eat, there are seats so close to the booth that not even normal sized prsons like me can seat. If you go to any IHOP, Denny's, TGIF, etc., you will find the right seat by a booth, and if you don't, just ask to be moved to another booth. Don't stew and take action. There are plenty of seating arrangements. 

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