ADLI Successfully Defends Business Against ADA Violation Claim Brought by Frequent ADA Litigant Plaintiff’s Attorney
In the past few years, the number of complaints filed in federal court alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) for construction-related deficiencies has skyrocketed. In the Central District of California alone, such cases have risen from composing approximately 3% of all civil actions filed in 2013 to compose 24% of all civil actions filed in the first few months of 2019.
While the ADA is meant to protect those with disabilities and enable them to have full and equal enjoyment to public places, frequently, the ADA is exploited by professional plaintiffs, who make a living out of suing hundreds of businesses each year. Since relief under the ADA is available for even unintentional or technical violations, and because successful plaintiffs are allowed their attorney’s fees, many small businesses are not willing to take the risk to engage in litigation, or do not have the resources to fight back against these often frivolous suits. Professional plaintiffs, and the law firms who serve them, regularly rely on small businesses’ fear of lengthy, drawn-out litigation and high attorney’s fees to force early settlements.
In November, frequent ADA litigant Plaintiff Brian Whitaker brought a complaint about such a claim against a small business operating an espresso bar in Glendale. The complaint claimed the business violated the ADA by not providing ADA accessible tables. Knowing they were in compliance with the ADA, the company came to ADLI, who had previous experience dealing both with Brian Whitaker and his law firm Potter Handy LLP.
After obtaining exculpatory testimony and evidence from the business owner, ADLI filed a motion to dismiss the case under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of Article III standing and mootness. Ultimately ADLI was successful in demonstrating to the Court that the Plaintiff had suffered no injury and that the business indeed had an ADA compliant table. The Court found that the Plaintiff did not have standing to bring his claim and that his claim was moot due to the business’ compliance with the ADA. Not only did the Court dismiss the Plaintiff’s case in its entirety, but it also awarded costs of suit to the Defendant.
ADLI has served several businesses facing similar cases at reasonable fee arrangements. To learn more about the firm’s business litigation practice, click here.