Skepticism over Federal ADA Lawsuits Grows as Congress Mulls ADA Changes
The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would make some drastic changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically with regard to enforcement of ADA standards and fines on business owners. One of the primary arguments used by proponents of the bill, which will see further congressional discussion moving forward, is that there has been a rise in frivolous ADA lawsuits, with many attorneys and claimants alike making a living off of such claims.
One recent case in Utah exemplifies this scenario. The attorney, James Ord, positions himself as a champion for people with disabilities, but he has drawn a lot of criticism for filing nearly 200 lawsuits against business owners over alleged ADA violations.
Ord has claimed he files these lawsuits on behalf of people who would otherwise be left voiceless. Business owners, however, paint him as an opportunist and an attorney who cares more about a paycheck than justice.
In one case, a husband and wife were forced to shut down their store, Mystic Hobby Games, because they did not have the money to address the issues raised in the lawsuit against them. Other stores in the same shopping center in Sandy, Utah, were also targets of lawsuits filed by Ord.
Among the violations claimed in the lawsuit against the business owners, Kat Nelson and her husband, were the following: a lack of knee clearance at a bathroom sink, an inaccessible soap dispenser, a difficult-to-open bathroom door and a lack of handicap parking.
Ord is currently the attorney in 179 ADA lawsuits filed in federal court and has repeatedly used several of the same plaintiffs in cases. He claims these businesses should be held responsible, as they have had years to comply with the law that was enacted in 1990.
Critics say many of these lawsuits unfairly target small business owners who do not have the resources to make some of the necessary upgrades to their properties and certainly do not have the resources to pay off the fines that result from these lawsuits. As a result, many are forced to shutter their companies.
Cases like this will continue to be the subject of intense scrutiny as Congress weighs whether or not it will implement changes to the ADA in the near future. Until then, those who are concerned about not having ADA-compliant signage in place can contact the team at Erie Custom Signs for help.