Arizona AG: ‘Shakedown’ Lawsuits Against Small Businesses About Money, Not Helping Disabled (Forbes)
The attorney general of Arizona recently termed a 150 percent increase nationwide in legal filings connected to alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since 2013 as “a serious, growing issue” that he believes is more about plaintiffs attorneys getting rich than the common good.
In a July 20 teleconference hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Federalist Society and titled “State Efforts to Rein in Americans with Disabilities Act Lawsuits,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich spoke to how the growing numbers of ADA lawsuits has affected that state.
“In Arizona alone, there were more than 2,000 of these copy-and-paste type lawsuits that were swamping our court system when I took office [in January 2015]. One of the things we did was look at ways that we could, as a state AG [office], ensure that not only was justice being done, but was there a way to make sure that lawsuits that were without merit were not clogging the system – and that plaintiffs lawyers weren’t really involved in an effort to shake down small businesses,” Brnovich said.
Brnovich has targeted an organization called “Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities,” a group that began filing many of these ADA lawsuits against small businesses in Arizona.
“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, there are literally hundreds of pages of regulations that sometimes are the minutiae of what angle a ramp must be at, how high a sign must be at, what signs must say. Sometimes, you would get a small business that would have a handicapped placard sign, but wouldn’t have the necessary language such as ‘van accessible’ even though the space is clearly marked or they wouldn’t have the international [handicapped] symbol,” Brnovich said.
Brnovich explained it was commonplace to see complaints in which people would allege that the height of handicapped signs was insufficient.
“Under the ADA regulations, the bottom of a sign must be a minimum of 60 inches above the ground. This group AID would sue even when the signs were just a few inches too low,” Brnovich said.