Man Sues White Castle Because He’s Fat!

by Khaleef "Fat Guy" Crumbley on September 14, 2011

in Commentary

Martin Kessman White Castle Booth

I happened to come across a story the other day about a man who is suing fast food “restaurant”, White Castle (a chain that made it to the list of popular food that we can’t resist). At first, I assumed he found a roach in his food, or a piece of glass in his drink, or maybe he was run over in one of their parking lots, or any number of fast food lawsuits that come up. Instead, what I found is a fat guy who can’t fit into the booths!

Fat Guy in a Little Booth

Martin Kessman is a 64-year old stockbroker who measures in at 6ft tall and 290lbs. He is suing White Castle because their booths are too small for him to fit in comfortably. Back in April of 2009, he tried to sit down at a White Castle in Nanuet, and ended up banging his knee against one of the table’s metal supports.

The New York Post records the following:

“They’re stationary booths,” he told The Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.”

“As I looked around the restaurant, I saw that there were no tables and chairs that could accommodate a person that merely wanted to sit down and eat his meal,” Kessman wrote.

Kessman claims he has no problem finding a place to take a load off at other fast-food places, and fits easily into airline seats.

He left the restaurant embarrassed and in pain, so he decided to write a letter to the corporate headquarters. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the type of sympathetic response that he was expecting:

“In each letter was a coupon for three free hamburgers — but the cheese was extra!” according to a lawsuit Kessman filed last week in Manhattan federal court.

Something tells me that, despite his outrage, he used those coupons! In fact, he admits that this event has not stopped him from eating White Castle meals at all. But since he was embarrassed at not being able to fit in the booth, he sends his wife to pick up his order!

Maybe he stayed loyal to the chain because they assured him that they would make changes to the seating arrangements in their restaurant:

“They sent me specs and everything, about how the booths were going to be enlarged and made comfortable for people with a little more weight,” Kessman said. “So two and a half years went by, and nothing was done.”

I have to admit that I’ve never been able to understand the point of their stationary booths. Wouldn’t it just make sense to have tables and chairs? Maybe they are worried that their customers might use the chairs in one of the infamous “White Castle Fights” that are far too common. Either way, I never thought about filing a fast food lawsuit – even though I’m a fat guy (even though I’ve lost some weight recently)!

Fast Food Lawsuit: Fat Guy in a Little Court?

You may be wondering how Mr. Kessman has managed to transform an embarrassing situation into a fast food lawsuit…well, I’ll tell you.

According to Martin Kessman, the “tight” stationary booths in White Castle chains violates the civil rights on fat guys (and gals)! He claims that the chain is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

The Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable — not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people,” according to Kessman, who is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages. “I just want to sit down like a normal person.”

A quick review of this case would suggest that it will be thrown out of court, but I don’t believe it will go away that easily. There are plenty of people who feel that obesity is a bonafide disability, and because of that, they expect you to make all sorts of outrageous accommodations for fat people.

What Do You Think?

  1. Do you think White Castle owes this man anything?
  2. Should they be forced to reconstruct their restaurants because someone who weighs almost 300lbs can’t fit in a seat comfortably?
  3. Should they be required to pay damages because a fat guy was embarrassed about being fat – while he was ordering unhealthy food?

© 2011, All rights reserved.

Andrea @SoOverDebt September 14, 2011 at 7:44 am

I do think White Castle should consider switching to tables and chairs, simply because they won’t have problems like this if they do. That said, I don’t think they specifically owe this guy anything.

I hate stationary booths because I’m short – sometimes I can’t even reach the table comfortably. Or, if the seats are deep, my feet don’t touch the floor. It drives me crazy. I like booths over chairs, but only when they’re sized correctly for me. Since restaurants can’t make the booths adjust to fit everyone, they should consider other options. Maybe some booths and some tables, like every other restaurant in the world.

No way should this guy be compensated for his “embarrassment.” If that’s the case, I need some money! I get embarrassed when I try on clothes and they’re too small and/or make me look fat. I also get embarrassed when my groceries cost more than $100. Can anyone control what makes me feel embarrassed? Nope. So they aren’t responsible for doing anything about it. I have to make a choice about whether the potential “humiliation” is worth it to me.

Hunter @ Financially Consumed September 14, 2011 at 7:47 am

Is this guy sue happy or sue sad? This is ridiculous legal action and I’m glad it didn’t amount to anything. This consumer has a choice. He can go to any restaurant that satisfies his needs and comfort.

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter September 14, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I agree. We are never going to be able to make every single person happy. We just try our best. And like Hunter says, we have a choice.

Financial Success for Young Adults September 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

I don’t know if he qualifies under the ADA act but I would be very upset if I was in a wheelchair and could not find accomodating seating at my favorite restaurant. It looks like he wrote a letter before suing and they decided not to act. This is the consequence. With that said, frivolous lawsuits tie up the legal system and cause tax payers money. But a simple seating change could have avoided all of this.

Coworker September 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I think this “problem” is going to get worse before it gets better. Obesity and convenience to these unhealthy choices has become a real issue for all of us, who pay for health insurance premiums, who buy plane tickets, who buy tickets to sporting events. Either the seats have got to get bigger or we all need to eat healthier. White Castle doesn’t owe this guy anything but they should move the bolts on the chairs and tables to make it bigger for the bigguns to sit..

krantcents September 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I am in favor of special accommodations people who need them, but should White Castle change everything to accommodate evry exception. Maybe we just need to take responsibility for ourselves.

cashflowmantra September 15, 2011 at 11:43 am

I would have thought that every restaurant would have had to have some tables (or at least one) with a chair for those in wheelchairs. They all seem to have the big restroom stalls with the bars on the wall. The ADA has been around long enough.

They should not have to pay this guy for his embarrassment, however. Hard to see how it would have added to it. Plus, does he really fit in an airline seat? I find that hard to believe. I wouldn’t want to share his row.

Squirrelers September 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I heard about this too. At first, I dismissed it as the guy being way out of line, seeking attention, etc. However, I don’t think the issues are entirely without some merit.

So, to answer your questions.

1) I don’t see why the guy would be personally owed compensation. I’m not a legal expert, but just in terms of a reasonable person view on this, it seem like monetary compensation isn’t warranted.

2) Places like this should allow reasonable accomodation for people that are larger than average, or have a disability. I’m surprised that they have those fixed chairs/benches, based on what I’m reading. In all sincerity with no sarcasm intended, this would seem to be just the type of establishment that might attract a disproportionate share of larger people anyway.

3) I don’t see how they should have to pay him anything. Again, I’m no legal expert:) Just seems like common sense in my view.

Paul @ The Frugal Toad September 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Loved the adsense restaurant coupons right above the picture of the fat guy sitting at the table!

Cherleen @ The College Investor September 19, 2011 at 6:17 am

I don’t think White Castle is responsible why the man cannot fit into their booth. But the moment they received a complain from the guy, they should have done something to resolve the issue and make it comfortable for him and other people of his size.

Buck Inspire September 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I laughed at the comment about the guy probably using the free coupons. I don’t think he should be compensated. But White Castle could turn this into a positive if they tried to address the issue by adding a few chairs and tables for bigger than average customers.

mike September 27, 2011 at 3:19 pm

“I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.”
Yes you are.

“Kessman claims he has no problem finding a place to take a load off at other fast-food places, and fits easily into airline seats.”

The guy sitting next to you doesn’t think you fit easily in the seat. He wants you to move.
Perhaps this should tell you you need to lose weight? Instead it motivates you to sue instead of excercising

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: