Shopping Center Management (Regional) Drive-By-Lawsuit
January 24, 2017
West Lake Hills, TX
Approximately 7 years ago, while I was representing (as legal counsel) several downtown Austin businesses who were renovating old historic buildings along the same street, soon after the businesses were open they were all sued by a local attorney who headed up a “legal aid” type office for violations of ADA. These businesses were all located on a street that had elevated sidewalks with admittedly difficult access to the street level and had multiple sets of stairs from street level up to the sidewalk and into the businesses (bar, coffee house and restaurant). All business on this street do have “flat” access from the alley BEHIND the businesses.
Anyways, despite each business installing the various ADA items, including lifts, etc., the lawyer would not settle the claims until his “fee” ($5000) for each business was paid. To my knowledge after lawyer received his fee, no one ever came by to inspect to see if the ADA issues were resolved.
The same group of 3 wheelchair bound “plaintiffs” who admitted they never patronized any of these businesses later in media said they rolled around town looking for violations to take to the lawyer.
Interestingly, last month I saw a news story about similar drive by lawsuits where the plaintiffs later said if they knew the shake down process they would never have participated, and that they never received their share of the “damages” from the lawyers. I think it was a Denver based TV station story. Also the story talked about the thousands of businesses being hit by these cases, especially in situations similar to ours (older sections of town with older buildings). Apparently in Cal there is no defense or grandfathering? And statutory fines that go to the lawyers.