“‘Somebody’s got to stop this’: New wave of ADA lawsuits hit Colorado, Southwest U.S. hard”

ADA filing mills have hit Colorado, with mom-and-pop businesses the prime targets, according to an investigation by The Denver Channel:

Now, people who call themselves disability advocates have filed a new wave of lawsuits across the Denver metro demanding settlements and claiming businesses are inaccessible to people with disabilities. …One case in Bailey, Colorado forced a man to shut down his restaurant indefinitely.

In this latest round of litigation, a woman from Arvada has filed nearly 70 cases in less than two months. There’s evidence to show the complaints are connected to a lawsuit-filing machine across the Southwest United States….

After Denver7 approached [plaintiff Melissa] Umphenour, her attorney asked the court to seal some of her new cases. The attorney did not want them to be subject to public inspection….

H.R. 620, a bill introduced in Congress with cosponsors from both political parties, would provide that persons seeking to file accessibility lawsuits of this sort “would have to write a demand letter to a business first. They could file a lawsuit only if the business fails to respond in writing within 60 days. If the business responds, it would have 120 days to fix to compliance issues or, at the very least, show substantial progress.”

9 Comments

  • Doesn’t the demand letter system just create an opportunity to cast an even wider net? The current system, messed up as it is, requires filing a lawsuit, which means there’s a public record of what you’re up to, you have to pay court costs, a judge will eventually see this thing and ask questions, etc… 70 lawsuits in two months is nothing compared to the thousands of demand letters someone could send in a month. Then you wait 60 days and sue all the non-responders, arguing that their continued violations are even more egregious because they were put on notice and took no action.

  • These unintended consequences of otherwise altruistic legislation need immediate redress.

    • To what end? To create a whole new set of unintended consequences? The entire idea of altruistic legislation is a fundamentally broken idea.

  • The City of Cocoa Beach, Florida, announced in a Board of Adjustments meeting that there is a lawyer going through the city checking for violations of the ADA and looking to file a compliant / sue.

    The City is helping the business owners as much as they can.

    This is not longer about helping the disabled or given the disabled access.

    This is greed. Pure and simple greed.

  • The obvious solution is to take away the right of filers to collect damages, at least from businesses that employ less than so many (100?) workers. The only right of the plaintiff would be to get the necessary changes made.

    • Allow minimal damages, but not legal fee shifting. Plaintiff must pay their own legal fees.

    • And why make there be a threshold? So only those businesses we really don’t like (the evil companies who employ more than 100 people)? Makes no sense. Stop rewarding this kind of behavior. I’d rather see an administrative process much like Title VII that helps drive compliance than this ransom based system. ADA enforcement hasn’t been about accessibility for a very long time.

    • Giving substantial damages to the complainant has the effect of reducing the money available to the business in violation to correct the violation.

  • It’s all about greedy attorneys who extort business owners with the threat of litigation. Give all attorneys a bad name.

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