The Barnwood isn’t the only restaurant in San Joaquin County that was knocked to the canvas because of an American with Disabilities (ADA) lawsuit.
In 2003 the 105-year-old On Lock Sam’s restaurant on Sutter Street in Downtown Stockton closed its doors after an Oakland man claimed he was humiliated because he was unable to navigate his wheelchair into the eatery’s bathroom. The suit claimed that the man, Charles Hager, soiled himself as a result and hired an Oakland attorney to represent him in the suit.
The six members of the Wong family that owned the restaurant decided that they couldn’t bear the brunt of the cost to overhaul it and shut its doors – ending an iconic run as one of Stockton’s most cherished haunts.
It reopened a year later under new ownership and after an extensive remodel.
The lawyer that represented Hager, Paul Rein, had become infamous when he unsuccessfully sought $577,000 from actor Clint Eastwood because his Mission Ranch Hotel and Restaurant – which had wheelchair ramps, handicapped parking and a handicapped accessible suite – didn’t comply with the ADA.
A two-week jury trial denied the woman that sued Eastwood the damages she sought, and Rein, in speaking with reporters, claimed that the jury was swayed by the actor’s star power.
“If you’re right you’ve got to hold your ground,” Eastwood said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “I also fought for the businessmen and businesswomen who own small businesses who are trying to get by and are getting worked over by those people.”
A jury did say that the hotel needed upgrades but placed no legal restrictions.