Floor Remarks, as delivered by Congressman Ted Poe
Mr. Speaker, Thidwick Books is a small, 865-squarefoot bookshop that has been in the same building since 1999, but now it is being forced to either close its doors forever or move away. Serial plaintiff Craig Yates has sued multiple other merchants, including Thidwick Books.
He generally makes vague claims about the designs of retail stores and claims that they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. These small businesses do not have the resources to contest unfounded lawsuits or, in many cases, even know what the alleged violations are.
The businesses are told to either pay a settlement or get sued with further litigation. Oftentimes, small businesses choose to pay the extortion rather than to defend the expensive, unfounded drive-by lawsuit.
The bipartisan bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, improves access to public accommodations for the disability community while preventing well-meaning business owners from falling victim to drive-by lawsuits. Mr. Speaker, the ADA was designed to improve access for the disabled, not to enrich unscrupulous lawyers and the plaintiffs.