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Local man kicked out of shopping mall for riding his Segway

Local man kicked out of shopping mall for riding his Segway

By Michael Lopardi. CREATED Mar 27, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A valley man who has trouble getting around said he was upset after he was told he could no longer use his Segway inside a Henderson mall.
 
After he was kicked out, Joe Spitale phoned Action News to find out why.
 
"I have great difficulty walking any distance," said Spitale.
 
The Segway is a two-wheel device that allows users to stand while they are mobile. Last Saturday, Spitale said mall security in Galleria at Sunset mall in Henderson told him he could not use the device inside because it is not a wheelchair.
 
"I was doing the same thing as any other customer in the mall and I was asked to leave just because I need a mobility device," said Spitale. "I can't walk distances."
 
Spitale said he can walk, just not long distances, because of complications from degenerative disc disease. He prefers a Segway over the wheelchair because it provides him some exercise by standing.

Spitale carries around two doctors' notes with the device to prove he relies on the Segway to get around.
 
"If I was in there causing a problem, I should be asked to leave," said Spitale. "But I wasn't causing a problem."
 
Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act went into effect in March, 2011, according to a pamphlet from the ADA National Network, which provides training and guidance on the law.

The changes allow disabled people to use Segways in public spaces as long as the device does not compromise safety and users can show they need the device to get around.

The law allows facilities to consider factors like size of the device, pedestrian traffic and facility layout in making decisions, according to the pamphlet, which was supplied to Action News by the Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center.

Action News reached out to the Galleria mall for their side of the story.

The mall's security staff was not aware of the 2011 changes, said Heather Valera, mall marketing director.

This is the first time an incident like this has come up at the mall, Valera said. However, after reviewing policy, Valera said the mall will allow disabled people to use Segways as long as they do so in a safe manner. The information has been passed along to the mall's staff, Valera said.

The non-profit group Nevadans for Equal Access investigates complaints regarding access for disabled people. While the group did not handle this case, President Paul Martin said, generally speaking, some businesses may have trouble keeping up with changes to the ADA law.

"The lower-end personnel are never brought up to code or brought up to speed on what the changes were and how it affects them in their jobs," said Martin.

Action News reached out to other large malls across the valley to see where they stand on the issue. We're told Fashion Show, Meadows and Boulevard malls all allow disabled people to use Segways as long as they are used in a safe manner.

Spitale said he spoke with mall management after first talking to Action News. Spitale said he is satisfied with the outcome and plans to continue shopping at Galleria with his Segway.

"I'm real happy with the way it turned out," Spitale said.

Michael Lopardi

Michael Lopardi

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Michael Lopardi is the featured reporter of the You Ask. We Investigate. franchise at Action News.