IM this article to a friend!

December 12, 2004

Communication breakdown: Deaf woman sues mall

From: Boston Herald, MA - Dec 12, 2004

By J.M. Lawrence
Sunday, December 12, 2004

A deaf Massachusetts woman claims a New Hampshire mall store clerk had her arrested and ''humiliated'' her after she requested pen and paper to communicate and refused to leave the store.

Rhonda S. Abbott, 45, of Haverhill is suing the Mall at Rockingham Park, Prints Plus, mall security and three Salem, N.H., cops under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Abbott ''was subjected to great indignities, humiliation and disgrace'' on Nov. 3, 2001, when she tried to present her receipt for a framed print, according to her attorney.

She claims former manager Denise L. Smith ordered her out of the store and later called mall security when she persisted trying to communicate.

Two off-duty Salem, N.H., officers who were working for Control Security Services handcuffed Abbott and had a police cruiser take her to the police station, according to the suit filed in federal court in Boston. The two officers were named as Louis J. Currier and Jeffrey Ouellette.

The current manager at Prints Plus referred questions to the company's corporate headquarters in Concord, Calif., which did not immediately return a call.

Don Gardner, an attorney for Salem police, said he will move to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction in Boston.

Susan Wolf-Downes, executive director of Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Concord, N.H., said she believes Abbott's experience is credible.

''It's doesn't surprise me. It's sad to say, but things like this happen all the time to us,'' she said through an interpreter. Asked whether Abbott should have been carrying her own pen and paper, Wolf-Downes replied, ''Why should she?''

© Copyright by the Boston Herald and Herald Interactive Advertising Systems, Inc.