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
“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.”