Looking for an ADA Payday

Our little rotating blue ball of a world is filled with all kinds of people — and for the most part, they’re out to do generally good things like help each other and enjoy their friends, families and their lives.

But…there are some who are a bit “slimier” and this is one such story from the files of Dean Sperling Law. A case we handled recently involving the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the California version called the Unruh Act. The ADA is designed to protect those with disabilities, but some (and their lawyers) are looking for a quick ADA payday.

The quick version goes like this. Our client owns a small “strip” mall.  The parking lot did not comply with the requirements of ADA and the Unruh Act as to the handicapped parking spaces. A lawyer sent a letter notifying the property owner of the deficiencies (no litigation mind you) and the matter was resolved by payment of minimum statutory damages and attorney fees. The client also hired a specialist to analyze the property and make any additional recommendations, which were also fixed.  All good, right?

Wrong. 90 days before the first lawyer sent the first letter, another individual also allegedly visited the property. A complaint was not filed right away but, instead, filed 5 months later in federal court.

So now the owner is dealing with paying two separate plaintiffs for the same violations. Dean Sperling says. “In our view, there is no doubt that these plaintiffs were looking for properties in violation not just to make sure that the properties came up to what is required but to make money for themselves and their counsel.”

Here lies the lesson — It’s probably better to make sure the properties have what is required by ADA and the Unruh Act (and keep them maintained properly) before you have to resolve claims and deal with people just looking for an ADA payday from you.

If you’re a property owner dealing with fortune-seekers surrounding ADA or Unruh Act claims, contact Dean Sperling and we’ll get it resolved with your best interests in mind.

More on the case:

Unruh Civil Rights Act