Another small business has been targeted by an out-of-state law firm suing over violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Denver-based Blanchard Family Winery is an example of a business with a retail location and a website where the lawsuit alleges a blind man in Douglas County could not access the information he needed online.
“I think that they are looking at relatively small businesses, small to medium size businesses, that don’t have the resources to fight back,” said James Blanchard, co-owner of the winery. “Everybody in this community, including us, wants to be compliant 100%.”
Blanchard and his brother expanded their business into Colorado two years ago. They started in Sonoma County more than a decade ago in California. Both locations have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic because they rely on tourism to bring in customers. They moved to an online model after the shutdown and only reopened their Colorado location in the last month.
“We’re looking at whatever we can to get people back into our locations to stay open and we certainly don’t have budgets to fight lawsuits along the way,” said Blanhard. “I’m a disabled veteran myself, we have a lot of other disabled members who are being hit by this suit, so it’s completely arbitrary.”
Two months ago he got notice of the lawsuit without warning with David Katt listed as the plaintiff. Blanchard says Katt is suing 60 businesses in Colorado, represented by a law firm in New Jersey. The restaurant industry, which Blanchard considers himself a member of, is down between 30% to 50% depending on the business because of the coronavirus. Blanchard says instead of a lawsuit, he would rather work with others to find a long term solution that better uses the money needed to cover his legal expenses.
“What can we do collectively, not only to fix the problem now but to work forward for legislation both at the state and federal level so that we can have guidelines to follow so we can be in compliance,” he said.
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