A San Francisco lawsuit claims a service dog was denied entry to a local library, putting a man with a heart condition at risk of harm. The lawsuit says the refusal violates the California Disabled Persons Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Law professor sues city after service dog denied entry to library
Clark Freshman, a law professor in San Francisco, has an aortic aneurysm, a heart condition that poses a risk of aortic rupture with elevated blood pressure. His service dog plays a crucial role in prevention by sensing rapid blood pressure changes and alerting Freshman to take his medication to reduce his blood pressure promptly.
The lawsuit alleges that in addition to being refused access, the library’s security guard threatened to penalize the professor for loitering if he didn’t leave. According to Freshman, the purported threats caused a spike in his blood pressure and heart rate.
“It was pretty upsetting, pretty scary,” Freshman told the San Francisco Standard. “I felt my pulse and it was pretty high. I had to do some breathing exercises to calm down.”
“[Freshman] has a heart condition that can cause him to die if he is under emotional distress,” said his attorney, Aaron Clefton.
According to the complaint, the security guard at the Eureka Valley/Harvey Milk Memorial Branch of the San Francisco Public Library denied Freshman entry because his service dog, Jampa, did not have rabies tags.
The guard told Freshman that a dog bit someone inside a city building. As a result of the incident, dog owners must show proof of rabies vaccination to enter city buildings with their service animals. Freshman allegedly attempted to provide digital proof of vaccination to the guard. However, the library’s security guard refused to look at the document and threatened Freshman with a citation.
Freshman later returned with a printed copy of Jampa’s vaccination records. The records indicated his service dog received his rabies shot. Still, the guard refused entry, allegedly telling Freshman the records were inadequate proof. Again, he was turned away from the library and threatened with a citation if he did not leave.
Freshman reveals previous incident with law enforcement
As a result of the encounter, Freshman’s blood pressure increased, posing a health hazard. He also revealed that the increase in his blood pressure was related to previous negative experiences with law enforcement.
Freshman explained that in 2011, Drug Enforcement Administration and San Francisco police officers executed a search warrant at his downstairs neighbors’ flat. The police also searched Freshman’s home and handcuffed him, San Francisco Weekly reported. Freshman said that his home, not included in the search warrant, was illegally searched.
Clefton chose not to disclose the specific amount of damages sought by his client. “Once we are served, we will review the complaint and respond in court,” City Attorney spokesperson Jen Kwart stated.