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290-Pound Man Sues White Castle Over Seats

By • Sep 13th, 2011 • Category: Burger Blog

Martin Kessman has a beef with his local White Castle restaurant, and he’s not taking it sitting down. The 64-year-old has filed suit in Manhattan’s federal court, suing the chain for unspecified claims. And bigger chairs.

See, Kessman weighs in at almost three bills. And when the 290-pound stockbroker strolled in to a Nanuet (NY) White Castle in April 2009 for some slyders, it seems he couldn’t quite slide himself into the restaurant’s plastic seats. “They’re stationary booths,” he told the New York Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.” After trying unsuccessfully to contort his plus-sized frame into the booth, Kessman limped out of the eatery, “mortified and in pain from smacking his knee into one of the table’s metal supports,” according to the Post story. And that’s when he sat down (presumably in a much larger chair) and put pen to paper, writing a letter to White Castle’s corporate headquarters.

“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. (And when Kessman writes “a person,” he of course means “an average-sized NFL offensive lineman.”) But instead of customer service satisfaction, Kessman- who claims to have no problem fitting into seats at other fast food establishments or on airplanes- got a series of “very condescending letters” in return… plus coupons in each of the letters for free burgers. “But the cheese was extra!” the lawsuit rages.

Amazingly, Kessman took the restaurant up on the free food, sending his wife to get the complimentary burgs. To go. “I did not want to set foot in the store… I have been like an outcast,” Kessman complains. He maintains that White Castle’s booths “violate the civil rights of fat people,” pointing out that the Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people.”

The store apparently did promise at some point to change out its seating. “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. “Two and a half years went by, and nothing was done.” White Castle has countered by noting that Kessman could have simply asked a store manager for a regular chair.

The Nanuet store is expected to undergo a renovation that will include larger seating options, but a spokesperson for the chain declined to offer a timetable. (And if there were a timetable, it’s unclear as to whether Kessman would be able to belly up to it comfortably.)

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