_Updated at 2:50 a.m. on Sept. 11._
Georgetown student Taylor Price (MSB ’10), who is physically disabled, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against [M Street bar Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown](https://mrsmiths.com/v1/index), citing discriminatory treatment that allegedly occurred in January.
Price, who uses a wheelchair, said he was discriminated against by the manager of Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown during a visit to the bar on Jan. 23. According to documents filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, Price entered the bar between 11:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Near the front of the bar, he and his friends were stopped by the manager, who refused to allow Price to go any further. The manager claimed that the bar was overcrowded and Price was a fire hazard.
“[The manager] said that if I wished to remain in Mr. Smith’s, I would have to sit in a corner and he pointed to a corner in the front of the restaurant,” Price said.
According to a press release from [the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs](https://www.washlaw.org/), a civil rights advocacy organization that is representing Price with [D.C. law firm Venable LLP](https://www.venable.com/), the lawsuit alleges that Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that bans disability-based discrimination in public accommodations, and the D.C. Human Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on disability and other factors. The lawsuit also names Kimberly, Inc., which owns Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown, as a defendant.
“All of us are equal and entitled to equal treatment. . This particular title of the [Americans with Disabilities Act] . says that you cannot discriminate,” said Doug Baldridge, a partner at Venable LLP and lead counsel for Price’s case. “And that is precisely what happened here.”
Price had previously parked his wheelchair in the rear of the bar without incident.
Following the confrontation with the manager, Price was escorted from the premises. Price said that the manager would not provide his name and told Price and his friend that they would not be allowed back inside the bar.
According to court documents, when one of Price’s friends explained to the manager that his actions were against the law and that legal action could be taken, the manager responded, “So sue me!”
Price said that as he was escorted out of the bar, he watched other “able-bodied people” being allowed into the restaurant after he had been told that it was too crowded.
“That, even more so, made me feel like I was kicked out purely based off my disability and the fact that I am in a wheelchair,” Price said. “That was disgusting. . It was shocking.”
In the press release, Price called the actions of the manager “a slap in the face.”
Price said that he has never been subjected to this level of discrimination before.
“No one should be subjected to this kind of treatment and that is why I felt it was important to investigate what possible recourse there was and that is why I’ve decided to pursue this lawsuit,” Price said.
The firms representing Price, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and Venable LLP, are offering their services free of charge.
“We believe very, very strongly in the merits of this case, having investigated it. We would not have taken it otherwise on a pro bono basis,” Baldridge said.
Price’s legal team contacted Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown prior to pursuing litigation, but did not receive a satisfactory response. The management of Mr. Smith’s of Georgetown could not be reached for comment.
“We are still early in the process, so we are not really sure what the outcome of this is going to be. But at this point Mr. Smith’s has yet to comment or respond and so it appears that we will have our day in court,” Price said.
According to Baldridge, Price and his legal team have not looked into rectifying the situation through monetary means.
“Our primary concern is to make sure that, without limiting any rights we have, this doesn’t happen again,” Baldridge said.
“What I am looking for is for Mr. Smith’s to do the right thing,” Price said. “So that no one else in my situation that enters Mr. Smith’s has to be subjected to this treatment.”
Price was left a quadriplegic after a swimming accident in New York in 2004. At Georgetown, he has participated in the Georgetown University Student Association, the Class of 2009 Fund and the Class of 2010 Fund. He also serves as a student representative on the university’s board of directors.
_- Kevin Barber contributed to this report._”