Abusive Drive-By Lawsuits investigated in 60 Minutes by Anderson Cooper on December 3, 2016
On December 3, 2016, Anderson Cooper of CBS in 60 Minutes investigated what are known as Drive-By Lawsuits. Here’s a link to the text and to the video of the investigation of these abusive ADA lawsuits:
Here’s a portion of what you will see on the link above:
Every business that serves the public — all 7 million of them in America — has to make sure disabled customers have equal access, and if businesses don’t comply, they can be sued without warning.
You might think you have to be a customer of a business to file a lawsuit against it, but in some states you don’t. You can simply drive by a store or restaurant, and if you see a sign in the wrong spot, or a ramp that’s off by a few inches, you can sue. They are called drive-by lawsuits, and some lawyers are filing hundreds of them against businesses that often have no idea they have done anything wrong.
Anderson Cooper, left, and attorney Nolan Klein outside a convenience store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
At first glance, this convenience store in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, may appear to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There is a parking space for the disabled, and an access ramp to the store. But the Americans with Disabilities Act has thousands of very technical regulations, and this store is in violation.
The above investigation of Drive-By Abusive ADA lawsuits by Anderson Cooper on 60 minutes is, for the most part a fair and impartial examination of some of the problems with these lawsuits. Not all details of the story are correct. For example, the attorney who states that a van accessible space can be 8 feet wide with a 5 wide foot access isle or loading zone got it wrong. A van space is typically 9 feet wide and the access isle is 8 feet wide. Other configurations are possible like 12 feet and 5 feet, but not 8 feet plus 5 feet.
This is just an example of how technical these things can be. Few lawyers know the ADA rules and regulations, let alone the average business owner.
The 60 minutes investigation of Drive By ADA Lawsuits also failed to mention another major problem with these lawsuits: Even if a business owner resolves the ADA lawsuit with one Plaintiff, and even if a judge make a ruling in the case and orders a particular modification of the property, there is nothing to stop a hundred other Plaintiffs from filing their own ADA lawsuit against the same business owner over the same access issue claiming that, in their opinion, a better accommodation could be made. There is what we lawyers call, “no finality” and the business owner can be left in a constant state of being under attack for the same thing.
The Karlin Law Firm are the leading ADA defense lawyers in California. It has taken years to understand the complexities of the ADA and how to handle the defense of these abusive ADA drive-by lawsuits.