Shakedown Lawsuits: Americans with Disabilities Act
This month's article is about the
proliferation of shake down lawsuits filed under the
Americans with Disabilities Act. Though the Act was
enacted to help all persons gain equal access to
businesses open to the public, that noble beginning has
degenerated into a cash cow for attorneys who file
hundreds of lawsuits a year looking for quick
settlements on behalf of their professional plaintiff
clients who claim some injury confers them disabled
Southern California News Station KABC
recently reported how one southern California attorney
had filed more than 500 lawsuits for a single client and
despite having made many thousands of dollars, claimed
the client could not afford the court filing fee.
Moreover, after one owner of a chain of small cafes paid
$5,000 to settle a claim because a bathroom mirror was
two inches too high, the same attorney was lying in wait
and promptly sued him again on behalf of different
clients for the same violation!
You say, "But my building was built 60
years ago before these requirements existed." Too bad.
The ADA applies to new construction and existing
buildings. If your building has impediments to access
for disabled persons, you could be subject to damages
claimed by the disabled person, unless there is a legal
exception. Generally, under California law, a disabled
person can sue for up to $4000 for each violation and
because these professional plaintiffs are often seeking
to find violations, the amount of claimed damages can
far exceed the amount.
Although the professional plaintiffs may
just want quick money to go away, we urge all businesses
to consult with experienced consel before they settle
any cases of this type. Until there is meaningful ADA
reform at the state and federal level, businesses are
vulnerable to these types of abusive lawsuits. - R.
Bruce Evans, Partner
As always, if you want more information,
just give us a call.
- From the Law Offices of Solomon,
Saltsman & Jamieson