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Potbelly Sandwich Works sandwiches are standard fare for many Washington professionals in search of a quick bite at lunch. But a lawsuit filed last week by Virginia resident Rosemary Ciotti in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleges that the layout of the chain’s downtown locales have prevented her from purchasing meals. Ciotti, who uses a wheelchair, says these barriers at Potbelly restaurants have made it difficult for her to get service and are a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Among her difficulties: high counters that interfere with her ability to speak with employees; self-service items out of reach; and low tables, narrow seating, and narrow aisles that are problematic for someone in a wheelchair. Ciotti, who is a registered nurse, has filed similar lawsuits before against the Washington Hospital Center and the Washington Capitals’ ice-rink complex. Matt Revord, general counsel for Potbelly, said that although the company does not comment on pending litigation, “we care very deeply about accessibility in our stores.” A Potbelly spokesperson could not be reached for comment. Ciotti is asking Potbelly to remove the barriers and is seeking unspecified damages. She is represented by the Equal Rights Center, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and Bingham McCutchen attorneys Richard Ripley, Gerard Finn, and John Dempsey.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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