Law Office of Rick Morin

(916) 333-2222

Small Businesses Beware – ADA Cases on the Rise

Look out small businesses in Sacramento! Lawsuits stemming from American Disabilities Act violations are growing. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the number of cases filed has increased 55% from last year. This far exceeds the 9% rise that was reported from 2012 to 2013.

The drastic increase shows a growing epidemic of ADA lawsuits across the US. As my readers will know, a handful of “serial filers” have cropped up all across California, filing hundreds of cases targeting small businesses.

These plaintiffs, who file hundreds of cases each year, visit stores and restaurants looking specifically for ADA violations. They choose targets indiscriminately and may never actually visit the place they are suing. In a decision against Marod Supermarkets, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that a person, who is not necessarily a patron, could still act as a “tester” for disabled-access compliance. This is what we are up against.

Old mom and pop shops pose an easy target for ADA lawsuits. Owners either do not realize their businesses are in violation or simply cannot afford the renovations. Others tell themselves that because they have not received any costumer complaints, they will not be sued. For these reasons, most businesses owners are surprised when they are served with a lawsuit.

California business owners should be particularly weary. Not only is California in the top three states where ADA cases are filed, but also it is the one of the only states where a plaintiff can ask for damages (the minimum being $4,000). Between renovation costs, damages, and attorney’s fees, an ADA lawsuit can easily run a struggling business into the ground.

ADA violations can be a serious problem for small businesses. While the WSJ reports that most ADA related cases settle quickly for under $10,000, the process can be stressful and financially draining.

Be proactive and address possible violations as quickly as possible. The best time to renovate your business is before you are sued!

To read the full WSJ article, click here.

If you have any questions regarding ADA lawsuits, please contact my office immediately. I can be reached at (916) 333-2222.