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Image: Martin Kessman sitting in restaurant booth
Angel Chevrestt
Martin Kessman is suing the White Castle fast food chain because he can't comfortably fit in the eatery's booth.
By TODAY.com contributor
updated 9/14/2011 4:33:53 PM ET 2011-09-14T20:33:53

Wedging White Castle burgers into his mouth has admittedly never been a problem for a 290-pound stockbroker from New York.

Trying to wedge himself into a seat at his local White Castle, however, has him mad enough to sue.

Martin Kessman, 64, has filed a lawsuit seeking unspecified financial damages against the fast-food chain, claiming that his local White Castle is in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act because the seating cannot accommodate a customer of his size. A federal lawsuit filed last week claims that in April 2009, Kessman smacked his knee into a metal post while trying to wedge himself into the stationary seating at a White Castle in Nanuet, N.Y., near his home.

'Could not wedge myself in'
“I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy,’’ Kessman told The New York Post. “I could not wedge myself in.”

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After limping out of the store in pain, he wrote multiple letters to White Castle’s corporate headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, complaining about the inadequate seating situation and his embarrassment in having to try to fit into a chair at the Rockland County location. White Castle’s response was a series of “condescending letters’’ and three coupons for a total of nine free hamburgers, according to the lawsuit.

“But the cheese was extra!’’ he wrote in the lawsuit.

White Castle planned to make alterations for the store, located about 45 minutes from Manhattan, but for more than two years, nothing was done, Kessman claims. A White Castle spokewoman said that the location in Nanuet is being replaced by a new one that will have more room to sit, which Kessman claims is not a problem for him at other fast-food restaurants and on airplanes.

“I just want to sit down like a normal person,’’ Kessman told The Post.

Still eats White Castle
Despite the humiliation, Kessman — who says he's been eating the chain's famous 'sliders' for 52 years — still sends his wife on burger runs to White Castle because he is too embarrassed to return to the store, according to The Post.

In the annals of fast-food lawsuit lore, Kessman’s complaint is different than most because it has more to deal with seating structure than the food. Arguably the most famous fast-food lawsuit came in 1994, when a woman was initially awarded $2.86 million in damages from a jury when she spilled McDonald’s coffee in her lap and sued because it was too hot after scalding herself. Other prominent lawsuits against fast-food chains have stemmed from glass in the food, E. Coli outbreaks, and a woman who ended up doing five years in prison when she was found in 2005 to have paid a man $100 for a severed fingertip that she planted in a bowl of chili in a bid to sue Wendy’s.

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