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Wildwood Inn Agrees to Settlement After Refusing Veteran a Room

The Wildwood Inn entered into an agreement with United States government to resolve a recent complaint alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

The Florence-based hotel known for its themed rooms like "arctic cave" and "safari suite" was accused of violating the ADA rule relating to service animals.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, the complaint involved an Iraq War veteran who had received a Bronze Star with Valor and who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The veteran uses a service animal to assist with her disability.

According to the complaint, Wildwood Inn staff requested to see either the certification paperwork for the service animal or medical paperwork from a doctor when the veteran attempted to check into the hotel.

The ADA generally requires that places of public accommodation permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability, and also prohibits inquiries into the details of a person’s disability in connection with their use of a service animal, and forbids demands for documentation relating to certification, training, or licensure of the service animal.

The type of service animal was not included in the news release.

The veteran and her husband said that they told hotel staff that ADA regulations do not allow such requests, but the staff reportedly refused to provide the couple with lodging.

As part of the settlement, Wildwood Inn has agreed to adopt a Service Animal Policy, train its staff members on the ADA’s requirements for service animals, and post signage permitting service animals.

“Service animals offer invaluable support to individuals with a wide range of disabilities, including veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “The ADA ensures that people who depend on service animals have the same opportunities for goods and services as the public at large.  

"This settlement furthers that purpose by improving awareness of the ADA’s requirements for service animals, particularly in those situations where a person does not have an obvious physical impairment. We appreciate Wildwood Inn’s cooperation throughout the investigation and willingness to reach a prompt resolution that benefits individuals with disabilities. We look forward to working together with them to implement the settlement agreement.”   

-Staff report