Update: judge restrains frequent ADA filer

In California, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie has issued an order labeling Jarek Molski of Woodland Hills a “vexatious litigant” because of patterns of abuse in his filing of hundreds of disabled-rights lawsuits against restaurants, bowling alleys, wineries and other businesses in the state (Sept. 21, Nov. 27, etc.). If upheld, the ruling would bar Molski from filing further suits without permission of a judge, who would have to be informed of Rafeedie’s order. “In three separate suits filed last year, for example, Molski, a law school graduate, claimed to have suffered identical injuries at three restaurants, all on May 20, 2003 — ‘highly unusual, to say the least,'” the judge wrote. The use of vexatious-litigant orders is considered rare; among legal professionals interviewed by the L.A. Times, Eve L. Hill, a visiting professor of law at Loyola-Los Angeles and executive director of the Western Law Center for Disability Rights, called Judge Rafeedie’s order “outrageous”, while Stanford law prof Pamela Karlan said it made “perfect sense” in that allowing misuse of the disabilities act risks generating a public backlash against it. (Henry Weinstein, “Disabled Man’s Suits Restricted”, Los Angeles Times, Dec. 11; “Lawsuit spree angers judge”, AP/Monterey County Herald, Dec. 12)(via Kemplog).

Judge Rafeedie also had harsh words for Molski’s attorney, Thomas E. Frankovich of San Francisco, saying he and his law firm had “aided and abetted” Molski’s “abusive litigation practices,” and “issuing an order that Frankovich’s firm and an organization affiliated with Molski called Disability Rights Enforcement Education Services had to come to court and show why they also should not be sanctioned.” Recently Frankovich filed five more lawsuits against businesses in the Central Coast town of Cambria, but this time the plaintiff is Nicole Moss rather than Molski. (Cynthia Neff, “New ADA lawsuits target Cambria”, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Nov. 11).

More from the Santa Maria Times:

A provision of California state law known as the Unruh Act allows Molski to demand $4,000 in damages per violation, per day.

Molski has said in the past that an average settlement is $20,000. He testified in the Los Angeles trial that he personally nets an average of $4,000 per settlement, after paying attorney’s fees, [Bakersfield attorney Craig] Beardsley said.

“There appeared to be 200 active cases ongoing at a time. You could extrapolate that out to $800,000 a year,” Beardsley said.

(Erin Carlyle, “Restaurant ready to fight lawsuit”, Santa Maria Times, Dec. 5).


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