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    Scott Adams

    P.F. Chang's is Sued for Extra Charges on Gluten-Free Menu Items

    Caption: Photo: CC--Mark Crawley

    Celiac.com 02/02/2015 - On December 9th, 2014, Anna Marie Phillips filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court against P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc., headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, for discrimination and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit claims that P.F. Chang's forces people with celiac disease to pay higher prices for gluten-free versions of their menu items. According to the complaint, P.F. Chang's charges one extra dollar per gluten-free item, however, they do not add these surcharges on to their regular menu items.

    Photo: CC--Mark CrawleyThe lawsuit is seeking class action status, and claims that over the past four years more than 3,000 people in 39 states have been affected at P.F. Chang's 204 restaurants. The plaintiff claims that the gluten-free diet is medically necessary for those with celiac disease, and those who eat at P.F. Chang's are forced to pay higher prices for gluten-free dishes, even if the dishes they order are naturally gluten-free. The plaintiff asserts that this arbitrary and unequal treatment constitues discrimination against consumers who have celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and that the added surcharge is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    In the lawsuit Ms. Phillips and her attorneys, Anthony J. Orshansky and Justin Kachadoorian of Counselone, P.C. in Beverly Hills, California, seek an immediate injunction against any further surcharges on gluten-free items, civil penalties, compensatory damages and punitive damages. P.F. Chang's is represented by Jon P. Karbassakis and Michael K. Grimaldi of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, in Los Angeles, California.

    On January 23, 2015, P.F. Chang's removed the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (case number 5:15-cv-00344).

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    Now we have to move forward with companies that manufacture gluten-free products and grocery store that charge 3 times or more for gluten-free products compared to others.

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    I think that this suit should be dismissed with prejudice.

     

    A restaurant is in business to make money, NOT provide a public service.

     

    It costs more to make an allergen free menu item, as well as guarantee that said item is not contaminated by those allergens in the kitchen.

     

    I am sure that if you looked you would find many articles touting PF Chang as a leader and innovator in the offering of gluten free menu items, and having them many years before any other restaurant chain.

     

    To sue them and claim they are violating the ADA because they have the nerve to want to make a profit on those offerings will serve only to tell restaurant operators that it is NOT WORTH IT to try and sell gluten free products because you may be sued over someone's opinion that you charge too much and are thus discriminating against disabled Americans.

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    I am grateful to have restaurants who offer gluten free foods and take care to avoid cross-contamination. I acknowledge that it takes extra effort on their part to do so. By not compensating them for taking these cares and precautions, we risk losing these options. While I would rather not pay higher prices, I will do so gladly to be able to have a few restaurants who care about those of us who must eat gluten free. It is MY problem, and I would certainly understand a restaurant whose management does not want to jump through the hoops necessary to ensure my food safety. Penalizing them will ensure that they will discontinue their consideration. Quit the pity party. What a selfish, self-centered person this must be.

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    Honestly, I think this is ridiculous! Gluten-free food in general is much more expensive than regular because of the extra measures, preparations, and precautions necessary to ensure their safety to gluten-free consumers. Do I wish that prices on these things were lower? Yes, certainly, because it is taxing on the budget, but I am saying I understand why they are not. I just ate lunch at PF's today and had a very positive experience.

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    So...here is my question. If they win this case, could this force all manufacturers of gluten-free food to lower their prices? i.e. gluten-free pasta $3 vs regular $1

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    Shame on you for thinking you should get something that requires special preparation and extra effort for free. The chain uses special plates and extra caution, as well as high quality ingredients, and takes great care of sufferers. How petty.

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    I sympathize with people who have the disease, I think the lawsuit is stupid and selfish. It costs more to provide the special dishes, but the restaurant only charges $1 more. Is she trying to get the restaurant to stop serving people with celiac disease?

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    We are possibly about to venture into the gluten free territory with my daughter (possible celiac) and from what I understand, P.F. Chang's serves gluten free food differently (on special plates) and also takes extra precautions to ensure safe procedures are followed. I am more than happy to pay an extra dollar (or more) for this service and the fact that this restaurant tries to accommodate people. I want to sue this woman for possibly causing restaurants to stop trying to help serve people with food allergies and intolerances. I hope her case gets thrown out of court. I would hate to see restaurants stop trying to service populations that need a little extra care because of this case!!!

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    For the love of God, you have GOT to be KIDDING!!! Anyone that has prepared a gluten free meal knows there is more expense in the materials and, more than that, the care taken to ensure that we, the celiacs (sounds like a Star Trek race, doesn't it?) don't get wiped out. If the chain is taking the proper precautions, I think a buck an item is a bargain.

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    So...here is my question. If they win this case, could this force all manufacturers of gluten-free food to lower their prices? i.e. gluten-free pasta $3 vs regular $1

    I think it is more likely to cause more restaurants to stop catering to people on a gluten-free diet than to make them lower prices.

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  • About Me

    In 1994 I was diagnosed with celiac disease, which led me to create Celiac.com in 1995. I created this site for a single purpose: To help as many people as possible with celiac disease get diagnosed so they can begin to live happy, healthy gluten-free lives. Celiac.com was the first site on the Internet dedicated solely to celiac disease. In 1998 I founded The Gluten-Free Mall, Your Special Diet Superstore!, and I am the co-author of the book Cereal Killers, and founder and publisher of Journal of Gluten Sensitivity.

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