- Florida law firm that served drinks isn’t responsible for death of employee who walked home intoxicated and was hit by train [Florida appeals court, Salerno v. Del Mar Financial Service]
- Family speaks out after local motels hit with Scott Johnson ADA suits [Allison Levitsky, Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily Post first and second posts]
- “When third-party funders weigh in on settlements, they may pressure plaintiffs and their attorneys to settle early” to make Wall Street numbers [Matthew Goldstein and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, New York Times] More/related: Miles Weiss, Bloomberg on George Soros involvement; Chris Bryant and Federalist Society teleforum with Travis Lenkner and John Beisner on proposed amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to require disclosure of litigation financing arrangements;
- Phone-answering for dollars: “Man who has filed at least 83 TCPA lawsuits loses one in Tennessee court” [John O’Brien, Legal Newsline, earlier] “RICO case settled with TCPA firm accused of teaching former students to avoid paying loans by suing” [same]
- “The science on a link between talcum powder and cancer is uncertain” which didn’t keep Mark Lanier from scoring a $4.69 billion win in a St. Louis case [Jonathan D. Rockoff and Sara Randazzo, Wall Street Journal/Morningstar, Tim Bross, Margaret Cronin Fisk, and Jef Feeley, Bloomberg and related Fisk 2016 (“Welcome to St. Louis, the New Hot Spot for Litigation Tourists”), Reuters and more]
- “Trio of Soda Cases Test the Limits of Attorney-Driven Class Action Lawsuits” [Jeffrey B. Margulies, WLF]
- “A Lawyer Who Helped an Exoneree Blow Through $750,000 Is Under Investigation” [Joseph Neff, Marshall Project]
- Department of State agency accreditation delays help worsen decline in international adoption [Kim Phagan-Hansel, Chronicle of Social Change]
- Fifth Circuit affirms sanctions award against ADA attorney Omar Rosales over “reprehensible misconduct” including “fabricating evidence” and “fraud on the court.” [Deutsch v. Phil’s Icehouse]
- Baltimore’s school mismanagement, GOP delegates cool on beer reform, non-citizen voting, Metro subway decay and more in my new Maryland roundup [Free State Notes]
- Eccentric English judge of olden days: “The Incoherence of Serjeant Arabin” [Bryan A. Garner]
- “L.A. Lawmakers Looking To Take Legal Action Against Google For Not Solving Long-Running City Traffic Problems” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt on controversy over Waze routing of traffic onto steep-graded street]
- U.S. House (215 Rs + 12 Ds) passes HR 620, ADA Education and Reform Act, aimed at curbing drive-by lawsuits by giving owners a chance to fix before being liable. Though a modest and targeted reform — it reaches only architectural barriers, and doesn’t try to get at web accessibility suits — it was met with wheelchair sit-ins and hysterical coverage about “gutting” the ADA, and its future in the Senate is uncertain [Minh Vu, Seyfarth Shaw]
- Another idea, from Utah Rep. Norm Thurston: “The Bad Faith Demand Letters Concerning Americans with Disabilities Act” [Matt Gephardt and Michelle Poe, KUTV] “Disabled persons advocate says piles of lawsuits show ADA working as designed” [same, on views of Aaron Kinikini, legal director at Utah’s Disability Law Center]
- “ADA litigant sues Chef Kwan’s, city of Menlo Park; She’s filed 37 suits in 30 months” [Palo Alto, Calif.; Emily Mibach, Daily Post]
- Web accessibility complaints fuel continued surge in ADA suits [Seyfarth Shaw, more]
- F’rinstance: lawyer rolls out ADA web accessibility claims against NYC grocers [Aaron Elstein, Crain’s New York] Celebrity and cosmetic brands hit [Lisa Fickenscher, New York Post] “Wet Willie’s” bar chain takes its number in line [Steven Helland, Frederikson & Byron]
- “This suit is but one of 385 ADA lawsuits that Deutsch filed in 306 days” [Jon Deutsch v. Annis Enterprises on an Omar Rosales case] But Rosales beats a disciplinary proceeding rap in Travis County court, so maybe there’s nothing that violates current law in his challenged methods [David Barer, KXAN] More: Mark Pulliam.
“A lawyer accused by his opponents of exploiting the blind to recover millions of dollars from shakedown lawsuits is now representing a deaf man who has sued a dozen media outlets….including Barstool Sports, BET Interactive and Gannett Satellite Information Network.” Attorney C.K. Lee, “has used a blind man named Derrick Anderson in 24 lawsuits,” per reporting by Julia Marsh in the New York Post, and is now teaming up with a deaf client named Phillip Sullivan Jr. to file closed captioning suits. [John O’Brien, Legal Newsline/Forbes]
- Virginia credit unions hit with wave of website accessibility claims [Tina Orem, Credit Union Times] McDonald’s, Kmart, others settle suits over website access for the blind [Samantha Bomkamp, Chicago Tribune] “Attorney exploits the blind to sue businesses: suit” [Julia Marsh, New York Post]
- Wheelchair-using donut shop owner/manager from California tells Congressional hearing she’s been sued over accessibility, too [John McMickle, The Hill] “California small businesses are vulnerable to mass-produced litigation” [Betty Jo Toccoli, Orange County Register]
- “Federal Courts, State Governments Push Back Against Corrosive Disabilities Act Suits” [Greg Herbers, WLF/Forbes]
- Arizona: “Serial litigant barred from filing frivolous ADA lawsuits” [Linda Bentley, Sonoran News on Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities group; earlier here, here, here, etc.]
- “Florida Lawmakers Take Action To Curb Access Suits, But Will It Work?” [Samuel Sverdlov and Minh N. Vu, Seyfarth Shaw]
- New Mexico: “99 ADA lawsuits dismissed as fraudulent and malicious” [Martin Orlick, JMBM Hotel Law, earlier]
- D.C. debates requiring employers that offer free employee parking to offer all other employees equivalent cash value [David Boaz, Cato]
- ADA frequent fliers in Gotham: “These handicapped New Yorkers are behind hundreds of lawsuits” [Melkorka Licea, New York Post]
- When should judges keep celebrity divorce records private? [Naomi Schaefer Riley, Acculturated, quotes me]
- “The Libertarian Lawyer Who Battled Jim Crow” [Damon Root on Moorfield Storey and Buchanan v. Warley]
- Antonin Scalia and legal education [Adam White, National Affairs]
- “Note to Texas, Florida: Insurance Fights Over Sandy Rage On” [David B. Caruso and Jennifer Peltz, Insurance Journal]
In Arizona, where ADA filing mills have been running wild suing small businesses, Attorney General Mark Brnovich led an effort to bring one operation to account. He explains how in this Federalist Society podcast. I have a question near the end.
“The lawsuit devastated him,” Moji Saniefar said. “He didn’t want to operate it anymore.”
What’s worse, she said, is that Zlfred’s ended up closing and her father died before a federal judge in March this year dismissed the ADA lawsuit.
“He never got to know that he won the case,” Saniefar said.
Fatemeh and Gholamreza “Reza” Saniefar “owned Zlfred’s restaurant in central Fresno for nearly 40 years. The restaurant closed in March 2015 after it was sued for ADA violations.” Now their daughter is suing two law firms involved in the action, which she alleges was part of a pattern of mass-produced complaints intended to extract money under the Americans with Disabilities Act and California law. [Fresno Bee]
“A federal judge decided that nearly 100 disability lawsuits filed in New Mexico, near carbon copies of cases filed in Colorado, were malicious and abusive.” [The Denver Channel] “Lawyer Sharon Pomeranz of Santa Fe filed the 99 cases on behalf of one plaintiff, Alyssa Carton, who has spina bifida and uses a wheelchair. Carton became the plaintiff after responding to a Craigslist ad purportedly placed by a litigation funding company called Litigation Management and Financial Services. … Carton’s agreement with the funding company required her to keep the contract confidential, a provision that helped the company evade its obligation to pay filing fees by claiming Carton couldn’t afford to pay, [Chief Magistrate Judge Karen] Molzen said.” Molzen compared the arrangement to a “carnival shell game” that arranged for surplus winnings to end up in the lawyer’s rather than client’s hands. “Pomeranz also had an agreement with the funding company requiring her to reimburse it for its ‘staff work,’ including a driver who took Carton to the business sites.” [Debra Cassens Weiss/ABA Journal]
Meanwhile, Austin ADA attorney Omar Rosales “has been suspended from practice in a federal court for three years based on a finding he ‘unquestionably acted in bad faith’ in six cases.” [Weiss, ABA Journal, David Barer/KXAN, earlier here and here]
An investigation by Arizona’s ABC 15 “confirmed through attorneys, sources and internal documents that Litigation Management and Financial Services is comprised of the same people behind the Valley group, Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, or AID.” The news organization also lays its hands on contracts used by the resulting ADA mass filing operation; it seems disabled plaintiffs in whose names the suits were filed got paid $50 a pop.