Shane Zahn, 53, of Garner, Ia., posted on Facebook about his April 24 visit at Mills Fleet Farm in Mason City, claiming he was denied the use of an electric wheelchair when heading back to his vehicle after shopping.
A disabled Iowa man has filed a lawsuit against Mills Fleet Farm and the manager on duty at its Mason City store, alleging he was forced to leave “without the benefit of a wheelchair” and crawled on his knees when returning to his vehicle.
Zahn and his lawyer, Peter Riley of Cedar Rapids-based Tom Riley Law Firm, sued after filing a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission in May. Riley told the Des Moines Register on Thursday that the commission “didn’t get to the point of making any findings.”
Riley said that what happened to his client “was an embarrassment” and that “he’s happy to move forward.”
“From Shane’s standpoint, this isn’t just about the money,” Riley said. “He’d also like to see that this sort of thing doesn’t happen (in the future).”
A Mills Fleet Farm official said the company hasn’t seen the lawsuit and declined to comment about it.
Zahn told the Register in April he had a below-the-knee amputation on his right leg five years ago and had a blood clot in his left leg that required surgery in December 2016. He said he’s previously shopped at the Mason City Mills Fleet Farm and usually brings a manual wheelchair with him — unless he has access to an electric model.
In the suit, filed Tuesday in District Court for Cerro Gordo County, Zahn says he shopped at Mills Fleet Farm on April 24 with his son and obtained a wheelchair from the store. After making his purchases, Zahn was approached by an employee who said he couldn’t leave with the wheelchair and must find a different way to exit.
The suit claims after the employee talked to one or more managers, who “authorized and approved her conduct,” Zahn returned his items and “was forced to leave the Mills Fleet Farm store without the benefit of a wheelchair by walking on his knees/or crawling to return to his car.”