Kelly Holleran Aug. 1, 2014, 3:22pm

A wheelchair-bound woman claims she was unable to access Ace Cash Express without the help of other patrons.

The store’s limited access violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to her recently filed complaint. 

Maria Palacios filed a lawsuit July 24 in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas Houston Division against Ace Cash Express.

Palacios claims she visited La Michoacana Meat Market in the spring of 2013 to obtain a money-gram. However, La Michoacana’s system was out of order and an employee recommended she visit the Ace Cash Express, according to the complaint.

Palacios traveled through the parking lot to Ace Cash Express, but was unable to enter the store because of two steps at the entrance, the suit states. She claims she waited outside the store for about 15 minutes, attempting to get the clerk’s attention.

While waiting, a male patron who was leaving offered to help her into the store, the complaint says. According to the suit, he and two other customers lifted Palacios and her wheelchair into the store. She was embarrassed and felt like a burden to those other patrons, the suit states.

Palacios claims she told the clerk the store was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The clerk then recommended she use another cash checking locations, such as Walmart, according to the complaint.

Since the incident, Palacios has sent letters about the store’s noncompliance, but they have gone ignored, the suit states.

In her complaint, Palacios says Ace Cash Express violated Title III of the American with Disabilities Act and the Texas Accessibility Standards.

She seeks a permanent injunction requiring Ace Cash Express to eliminate all barriers that prevent her from having access to the goods it offers and a declaratory judgment stating that Ace Cash Express’s physical barriers have prevented her from accessing the store.

She also seeks damages of at least $300 per violation, attorney’s fees, costs and other relief the court deems just.

She is being represented by attorneys Amin Alehashem, Joseph P. Berra and James C. Harrington of the Texas Civil Rights Project in Houston.

U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas Houston Division case number 4:14-cv-02117

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas Houston Division. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note that a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it represents only one side of the story.

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