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No Liability For ADA-Compliant Sidewalk Pad

No Liability For ADA-Compliant Sidewalk Pad

September 26, 2018


Summary By: Brian S. Duffy

A McDonald’s restaurant in Brentwood, Tennessee, represented by Spicer Rudstrom was found not liable to a patron who sued for alleged severe injuries sustained when she fell while walking out of the restaurant to her car.

Plaintiff at first alleged that the sidewalk was under construction and that an irregular condition of the concrete caused her to fall.  It was, however, indisputable that the installation of this sidewalk had been completed some eight months before the accident.

The sidewalk ran from near the doorway to the paved surface of the drive-thru lanes and parking lot.  The design for renovations called for a new sidewalk with a rectangular pad affixed to the sidewalk where it abutted the paved surface.  This pad was intended to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines and is customarily referred to as an ADA-compliant pad.

ADA pads are often rubberized plastic with truncated domes, which look like the top hemisphere of a ping pong ball.  The domes alert travelers, especially those who are blind or are using a wheelchair, that the sidewalk is about to end and vehicular traffic will likely be encountered.  The pad itself is typically a bright color, in this case yellow.  (In some communities the “pads” are made of concrete and painted red.)

Plaintiff argued that there was a dispute as to whether she slipped and fell or whether her foot got stuck on the ADA pad.  Plaintiff further argued that the proprietor should have warned about the new ADA pad.

Key to the Court’s decision was that the architect who approved the renovation project found that conditions were consistent with the ADA Guidelines and satisfied the city ordinances.   After the accident, the same architect inspected again and confirmed that the sidewalk was compliant with the ADA and in good condition.

The decision can be found in the docket of the Circuit Court for Williamson County, Tennessee, at Franklin, Case No. 2015-241, Pak v. The Good Food Group et al., Memorandum and Order filed July 25, 2018, or by contacting Brian Duffy at [email protected].

Brian Duffy served as lead counsel for the McDonald’s restaurant and its owner-operator, with Lance Thompson on the briefs.

Tom Carnell of CMArchitects PLLC served as the architect for this project.


Spicer Rudstrom PLLC was founded in 1963 and currently has more than 40 attorneys with offices in Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Little Rock and Texarkana. We offer representation across industries, including construction, real estate, employment, medical malpractice, retail and hospitality, trucking and transportation, and business. Our clients range from local and national businesses to international companies seeking business, legal and litigation services. The firm’s commitment to its clients and its entrepreneurial spirit drives Spicer Rudstrom to be the premier litigation firm in the South. For more information, visit www.spicerfirm.com.

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