Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Frankovich’

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).

ADA suits close another beloved eatery

Once again it’s happening in central California: “After more than 40 years in business, Roy’s Drive-In in Salinas is closing — in part because the owner can’t afford a lawsuit that accuses him of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.” Jarek Molski of Woodland Hills in southern California, who uses a wheelchair, “is suing Patterson because he claims the restaurant is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Molski has sued over 200 small businesses for not meeting ADA requirements. …Built in the 1950s, Roy’s Drive-In does not have ramps to access the windows and restrooms, but employees say the business is accessible to all of their customers — including the disabled,” through car-hop service. The restaurant is scheduled to close today. (“Roy’s Drive-In Closing After 40 Years”,, Sept. 20; Claudia Melendez, “Roy’s Drive-In to close”, Salinas Californian, Sept. 18). Last year (see Sept. 2, 2003) On Lock Sam, a beloved 105-year-old Chinese restaurant in Stockton, closed after being hit with an access suit.

Complainant Molski has been known to call himself “Sheriff”, and his activities (assisted by lawyer Thomas Frankovich) have caused an uproar lately in central California. His suits repeatedly recycle identical allegations concerning the lack of accessibility of establishments he says he has visited, and demand money over such putative misdeeds such as placing paper towel holders at an incorrect height. Hundreds of residents “filled the Morro Bay council chambers” after Molski hit a dozen local restaurants with suits. (Andrew Masuda, “Residents speak out over ADA lawsuits”, KSBY, Sept. 14). “Customers are calling Molski’s tactics a get-rich-quick scheme,” reported KSBY. Molski is “asking for $4,000 a day until the remodeling is completed,” says Ruth Florence, who owns Ahedo’s Mexican Restaurant in Grover Beach. “That’s ridiculous.” (Carina Corral, “China Bowl owner speaks out”, Sept. 15). More coverage on the same station: Sept. 8, Sept. 9, Sept. 10, Sept. 14.

Nor is Roy’s Drive-In the only casualty: “Owners of The Hungry Fisherman restaurant on Beach Street in Morro Bay say that Molski’s lawsuit caused the establishment to close after 28 years.” (Lindsay Christians, “Disability suits worry Morro Bay”, San Luis Obispo Tribune, Sept. 14). More coverage in the same paper: Sept. 11, Sept. 15, Sept. 15 again, Sept. 16, Sept. 18. San Diego-based lawyer Amy Vandeveld has also represented Molski (Matt Krasnowski, “Flood of ADA lawsuits irks small businesses”, Copley/San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 12). For Morse Mehrban’s recent activities in Fresno, see Jul. 9. For much more about disabled-rights filing mills, see Mar. 9 and links from there, and my City Journal article, “The ADA Shakedown Racket“. Update Dec. 12: judge declares Molski vexatious litigant.