Sadly, There Is Such A Thing As Professional Plaintiffs
While the Americans With Disabilities Act does not, per se, grant plaintiffs the right to collect large damages, individual states may enact laws to enhance the penalties to business that do not comply with the provisions of the law. Only a few years after the first ADA compiance lawsuits were filed, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found about 86% of all ADA claims were dismissed without action or penalty to employers.
Nonetheless, the fact that states add their own awards for successful complaints has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box, which even U.S. district courts have acknowldged. The problem is further exacerbated by the fact there are attorneys who, taking advantage of the attorney fee provisions of the ADA, also are participating large numbers of ADA lawsuits.
“‘Professional plaintiffs’ are typically found in states that have enacted state laws that allow private individuals to win monetary awards from non-compliant businesses.” ~ Time Magazine
The problem with professional plaintiffs is that it does not help businesses to necessarily come into compliance, and it does not help address all the disabilities that must be accommodated, because lawsuit settlements often are the means of resolving many ADA lawsuits. It is an issue that even the president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, Andrew Imparato, said abandoned the core issue of access.
Imparato was interviewed by Time Magazine in 2008, when he said, “We’d like to see federal judges in a jurisdiction where lots of cases are being filed looking at the phenomenon and trying to work on a solution that results in improvements in accessibility,” says Imparato, “and not lining the pockets of plaintiffs or boutique law firms that make a business out of it.” Imparato’s comments were part of the larger invstigative article by Alison Stateman.
When your business becomes the target of an ADA lawsuit, the first thing to do is get qualified counsel, like The ADA Defense Clinic, A Law Firm, and make sure you respond within the specified time period. Using our compiance partner, ADA Compliance Specialists, Inc., we can help you assess your rights and obligations and help you properly respond in your case.