Serial plaintiffs are creating havoc for business owners.
Flood of ADA Lawsuits Hits Arizona Small Businesses
More than 1,200 lawsuits have been filed recently against Arizona small businesses, alleging noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuits—which primarily focus on parking lot accessibility—have come mostly from the Advocates for Individuals With Disabilities organization, reports The Arizona Republic. Lawsuits have been filed in the Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert areas.
NFIB member Y-Knot Party & Rentals in Mesa was recently sued over its parking lot.
“The ADA laws themselves are generally good, and these are items that do need to be addressed,” said Ginia Lucas, manager at Y-Knot. “I think that most small businesses are so busy running their businesses that they don’t have time to go out and find out all of the current laws, which are numerous and convoluted.”
“I don’t think there are any small business owners who are out there wanting to break the law,” she added. “Given the opportunity, we will all take care of any issues immediately. Jumping straight to a lawsuit seems incredibly frivolous and mean-spirited.”
This recent flood of lawsuits is not an anomaly; last year one woman filed upward of 150 lawsuits against Arizona hotels regarding ADA compliance, and since last October there have been over 200 suits involving bar and restaurant interiors, The Arizona Republic reported.
Many business owners feel a better solution than a lawsuit is a warning letter that would give the business a certain number of days to correct the issue.
“I think there should be a law that in these types of cases, there should be a ‘90 days to comply with the law’ letter sent out prior to any litigation,” says Lucas. “A letter would have saved us a lot of headache.”
A bill introduced last year in the U.S. House would have done just that. Other governmental bodies are taking note as well: The Arizona Attorney General’s Office filed a motion in August to intervene against this serial litigator. The office wants the ADA lawsuits consolidated and dismissed, saying the plaintiff is “apparently engaging in ‘trolling’ litigation tactics designed to induce defendants into quick pre-suit or post-complaint settlement that merely enriches the Plaintiff.”