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.
- “Court: Lawyer Who Gave Himself Award Can’t Sue People Who Reported He Did That” [Lowering the Bar]
- ADA reform moves closer to governor’s desk in Texas [Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse, HB 1463, Texas Restaurant Association; recent Arizona reform]
- Of many effects of rising tide of state attorney general activism, count wider standing for states as one [Paul Nolette, Law and Liberty]
- If towns like Palmdale didn’t realize that California law now puts them under pressure to adopt districted rather than at-large council elections, entrepreneurial Malibu lawyer is there to present $4.6 million reminder [Robin Abcarian, L.A. Times]
- Choice of law school commencement speakers tracks familiar notions of which ideas are respectable and which not [John McGinnis, Law and Liberty]
- “Treating [dogs] as products for product liability purposes creates some significant problems.” [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use]
“Arizona Governor Doug Ducey just signed into law an amendment to the Arizonans with Disabilities Act (AzDA) designed to make it more difficult to bring lawsuits against businesses based on claims that they are not accessible to individuals with disabilities. The amendment requires potential plaintiffs to give business owners notice of alleged access violations and allows businesses 30-90 days to correct the issues before a lawsuit can be filed. It also excludes websites from the AzDA’s requirements and authorizes courts to impose sanctions on plaintiffs and their attorneys if the court finds that a lawsuit was brought for the primary purpose of obtaining a payment from the defendant business.” [Caroline Larsen, Ogletree Deakins; Maria Polletta, Arizona Republic; ICSC]
A similar bill is needed at the national level.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), key vote on tort reform in upper house, plans Texas visit to raise funds from trial lawyers [Palmetto Business Daily]
- “Indeed, most major law schools have fewer conservatives or libertarians on their faculty than can be found on the U.S. Supreme Court.” [Jonathan Adler, Martin Center]
- Anti-craft-beer bill, Marilyn Mosby followup, legislature rescinds earlier Article V calls, Baltimore minimum wage in my latest Maryland roundup;
- Man given $190 ticket for having pet snake in park off-leash. Off leash? [John Hult, Sioux Falls Argus-Leader]
- As victim’s wife looks on, identity thief and 20-time illegal border crosser testifies that he fathered two of victim’s children [Brad Heath on Twitter citing Judge Bea ‘s opinion in U.S. v. Plascencia-Orozco, Ninth Circuit]
- Central California: “State and federal legislation take new aim at predatory ADA lawsuits” [Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee]
“[Florida resident Patricia] Kennedy is among a group of people with disabilities who in the last five years has filed more than 6,000 federal lawsuits against business owners whose premises violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. More than half of the lawsuits were filed by just 12 plaintiffs, including Kennedy.” Florida has been a hot spot for ADA filing mills for at least as long as I’ve been publishing this website, with independently owned businesses a typical target. [Melanie Payne, Fort Myers News-Press/USA Today]
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.”
- “Louisiana Police Chief: Resisting Arrest is Now a Hate Crime Under State Law” [C.J. Ciamarella, earlier on so-called Blue Lives Matter laws here, here, etc.]
- Agency interpretive letters are the wrong way to enact new federal law [Ilya Shapiro and David McDonald on Cato amicus in school bathroom case, Gloucester County School Board v. G.G.]
- “Thousands of business threatened by ADA lawsuits” [Justin Boggs, Scripps/NBC26]
- “Reforming The Administrative State — And Reining It In” Hoover Institution panel with Adam White, Oren Cass, and Kevin Kosar, moderated by Yuval Levin [video, related Adam White paper, “Reforming Administrative Law to Reflect Administrative Reality”].
- New Hampshire: “Wal-Mart told to pay pharmacist $16 million for gender bias” [Reuters]
- Congress seldom has acted as if it believed strongly in D.C. home rule and it’s unlikely to start now [Ryan McDermott, Washington Times, thanks for quotes]