We’ve grown accustomed to seeing people with service dogs being kicked out of restaurants and coffee shops — some employees don’t know the law, or don’t care about the Americans With Disabilities Act, or don’t think the law applies to their mom-and-pop restaurant (or multinational coffee chain). But rarely do we see those who should know better, who are paid to know better — i.e., high-level management — display such bonehead behavior.
But today, we’ve got a doozy. Not only is a vice president being accused of booting a man with a service dog out of his place of business, his place of business is a hospital. And the man with the service dog is an 86-year-old disabled veteran.
All this is alleged, at this stage; the story came to light after the vet, Robert Campen, filed a federal lawsuit against the Adventist Medical Center of Portland, Oregon, over an incident that occurred June 1, 1015. According to the lawsuit, Campen and his dog first went to the information desk, then to the medical records department, and then to the lobby — all without incident, with Libby the dog “calmly walking next to Campen … neither barking nor acting aggressively” — before heading to the exit. That was when two security guards stopped him. They “loudly stated” that dogs weren’t allowed in the building.
Campen says he explained to the guards that Libby was a service dog — Campen suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder — but one guard wasn’t having it. He “interrogated Campen about whether his dog was in fact a service animal” and “asked Campen what service the animal was trained to do and what service it provides to Campen.”
At that point, Hospital Senior Vice President David Russell happened along. He told the guards, “Get the dog out of here.”
And things got nasty.
According to the lawsuit, “One of the guards grabbed Campen by the wrist, Campen pulled his wrist away, the guard twisted it away from Campen’s body, and forced him to leave.”
Campen alleges he suffered a sprained wrist and sought medical attention.
Campen is seeking an undisclosed amount of damages and a court order “prohibiting Adventist and the Medical Center from continued discrimination against people with disabilities and an order mandating full compliance with Title III of the ADA.”
Adventist Health has no comment. Kristi Spurgeon Johnson, a spokeswoman for Adventist Health, told The Oregonian that it has yet to be served with the lawsuit. “We were not aware of pending litigation,” she said.