Mises Wire

The ADA Racket

The ADA Racket

The current issue of City Journal features an article The ADA Shakedown Racket.

This article describes a trend of entrepreneurial lawyers filing multiple lawsuits against business for violionts of ADA regulations. The lawsuits are filed on behalf of disabled people who are recruited for this purpose, because such a lawsuit requires a plaintoff, but often one who would never use the facility in question.

For example, "Florida attorney Robert Bogdan has filed many suits on behalf of a disabled 12-year-old girl who reportedly lives across the street from him. Her targets have included various businesses that youngsters do not customarily patronize: a pawnshop, a liquor store, and a swimming-pool supply shop (the girl’s family has no pool)."

The violations in question are typically minor, such as handle bars being at the wrong height, or door knobs instead of handles. Businesses are not first given a chance to come into compliance befure the lawsuit can proceed. The business almost always eventually settles the lawsuit, resulting in hefty attorney fees and damage awards. Because of the quadruple payour provision of the ADA, multiplied by the number of plaintiffs, businesses with limited cash flow cannot afford to fight these cases.

The article reproduces the text of a recruitment letter that one such attorney sent to recruit disabled people to serve as adjunct plaintiffs in his lawsuit-filing buisiness. The letter promises a steady income for such people (derived from the winnings of these lawsuits):

Their shopping at inaccessible stores in San Francisco and then filing lawsuits as clients of mine against those inaccessible stores nets them each an income which makes them financially independent. For each of them, the lack of funds which used to limit them to life’s bare necessities and which plagues so many disabled individuals today has become only an unpleasant memory from the past. As a reward for implementing the law and making stores more accessible for other disabled shoppers, group members now use their stream of income to eat out at good restaurants when they want to, buy new clothes and computers and televisions and gifts for family members, travel and take vacations wherever and whenever they want to go, and live a lifestyle they could only imagine prior to joining the group. . ."

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