More than 14,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits have been filed in California in just the past few years by a small number of lawyers. Many firms have closed, dismissed employees or sought bankruptcy protection as a result.
The information in this website is intended to help those being sued in ADA/accessibility lawsuits and also to demonstrate why California's "private enforcement" system of disabled accessibility laws should be changed to increase accessibility for people with disabilities, but in a fair, efficient and cost-effective manner.
Los Angeles Judge concludes the actions of ADA plaintiff and his attorneys "were and are illegal."
Mega-filer Theodore Pinnock resigns with disciplinary charges pending
After filing well over 2,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits and hundreds of allegations of false claims, the State Bar's website (see doc at right) reports that Attorney Theodore A. Pinnock tendered his resignation with disciplinary charges pending (click for link). Shortly before that, Attorney Pinnock consented to a suspension of his right to practice law after San Diego Superior Court Judge Julia C. Kelety concluded after trial that he "stole" from a disabled minor in another case.
Because the majority of the lawsuits with the troubling cliams were filed by Pinnock & Wakefield, APC, many are asking what will happen to the Wakefields, as it is widely thought that Mr. Pinnock could not have done what he did without their active and knowing assistance. Also, because Mr. Pinnock was able to file lawsuits against hundreds of defenants during the two years the State Bar took to obtain this result, many question whether new safeguards are needed to stop mega-filers from abusing the system. Finally, many question whether the existing safeguards are working at all when so many others are doing the same things without accountability. More to follow . . .
See the Court of Appeal decision attached to the determination at right as this reasoning would appear to apply to many who are doing exactly the same thing. Attorney David B. Chatfield handled the case which resulted in this decision.
See KABC7's latest surveillance video of plaintiff Jim Cohan who filed lawsuits for Braille and wheelchair access hiking up a hill: click here. To see the lawsuits claiming damages for lack of Braille and wheelchair access, click here. To see a news report which prompted the dismissal of numerous other lawsuits by this same plaintiff in 2007 (also showing a photo of him hiking up a hill click here. If these claims are false, why has no action been taken against the plaintiff or his attorneys? Is it fair that he is allowed to keep filing cases without paying the filing fees at taxpayer expense?
Another mega-filer of ADA/accessibility lawsuits is sanctioned for "deceptive and punishable conduct" (see page 18, lines 1-2 of the order at right) for falsifying several signatures of a plaintiff who died weeks before. But has this also happened in your case? The documents suggest that this was his firm's regular practice!
" . . . [T]he most telling testimony from plaintiff . . . was that he files ADA lawsuits such as the one herein to support himself and for no other purpose. Plaintiff said he goes out to places and is "lucky" that he finds a barrier. Plaintiff indicated that he receives $1,000 from any settlement or judgment collected by his attorney"
"He could not satisfactorily explain to the court how he could access the toilet in his home which did not have grab bars but could not access the toilet in the bathroom at the defendants' restaurant which had one grab bar."
Note: While this decision currently stands reversed, note that the court did not conclude the the inappropriate conduct cited by Judge Luna did not occur (or was appropriate), rather, the decision appears to be based entirely on a technicality -- the amount of notice which was required for the sanction. The conduct described in Judge Luna's decision should concern anyone; to the extent that there has not been accountability for it would support even greater concern. This decision may be subject to change.
U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear appeal by "frequent filer" of ADA/accessibility lawsuits
The Los Angeles Times reports that the highest court in the land has declined to provide any relief for restrictions imposed on one disabled plaintiff's right to file ADA/accessibility lawsuits. Click for link to story. Click for more information.
Some have suggested that this plaintiff's conduct pales in comparison to that of other "frequent filers" in California and that defendants are often reluctant to take action because of a one-way fee statute which all but guarantees minimum damages and legal fees to successful plaintiffs, but rarely to defendants. ADA/accessibility lawsuits have been described as cases defendants "can't afford to win"; are there ways to change the law to accelerate accessibility changes but limit the potential for abuse? Many think this is imperative. Read on and decide for yourself!
Are sanctions just a "cost of doing business" for some?
After being ordered to pay $198,634 just a few months earlier, one frequent filing attorney is hit with a $25,000 sanction in the same court: " . . . the seriousness of plaintiff and his attorneys' abusive litigation practices and their improper, bad-faith actions during these proceedings present more than sufficient grounds to declare this litigation vexatious, improper and oppressive."
What about the defendants who didn't have the resources to fight/document these litigation tactics? With millions of dollars at stake each year, did the $198k fee award make any difference? Read the latest sanction decision and decide for yourself!
Frequent filer sanctioned, ordered to ethics class? Has it done any good?
"Plaintiff's counsel further unreasonably and vexatiously prolonged this litigation. . . At best, P & W's arguments and pleadings demonstrate a reckless disregard for their duties as officers of the court . . . the complaint is baseless and a simple inquiry would have demonstrated this fact."
Problem: despite the Court's commendable efforts, highly troubling reports continue to pour in. Did the order make a difference? Has there been any change/improvement?
Frequent Filing Attorney Suspended by Judges for 6 months.
A Northern California attorney who is believed to have filed over 700 ADA/accessibility lawsuits was suspended for six months from practicing in the United States District Court in Los Angeles, by the Standing Disciplinary Committee of that Court.
Another criminal investigation against an ADA frequent filer
The Yolo County District Attorney recently opened an investigation into the filings of Attorney Matthew Lakota. Click on this link to view the "must see" news report and video: http://www.kxtv.com/storyfull2.aspx?storyid=14536 or view a printed summary at right =>
One San Diego attorney with disabilities demands $200,000 from 67 small, mostly family-run businesses in a small, historic mountain community. Apparently, he visited the community one weekend and noticed accessibility issues at certain properties, now he wants each of them to pay him at least $4,000. Many have questioned whether these are the actions of a true accessibility crusader or the tactics of a shakedown artist.
Click here to learn more, or watch the video at right=>
View actual footage of a video deposition, which has been obscured to protect the identity of the witness [click on the clip to the right =>].
At least four former felons are known to have filed more than 1,150 ADA/accessibility lawsuits. Problem: this plaintiff knew nothing about many lawsuits filed, and settled, on his behalf, each of which claimed he had been injured!
Each of the lawsuits in this section was filed on behalf of the estate of a plaintiff who had filed over 80 accessibility lawsuits. In the first posted below, the plaintiff claimed to visit 15 different businesses in the same day-- including 6 different restaurants! [see paragraph 17]. In the second and third lawsuits, the plaintiff also went to another fast food restaurant and a toy store, that very same day! [see paragraph 8 of each]
Interestingly, at paragraphs 68, 17 and 18, respectively, the complaints claim that the deceased plaintiff would like to return to these facilities. Plaintiff claimed to suffer injuries in each of these lawsuits, at paragraphs 98, 46 and 47 respectively.
One attorney filed 100 lawsuits for the same plaintiff in just one year, and claimed he was injured in each one. While we take no position as to the validity of these claims, because false claims of injury are a crime (Cal. Penal Code 550) and injury claims can trigger insurance coverage, please Contact Us if you have ever seen any substantiation (such as medical records) for these injuries, or if the claims were dropped suddenly when you requested support for them.
Because injury claims can force an insurer to defend, and sometimes settle, an entire lawsuit (even the portion unrelated to the purported injury), many think the practice of consistently claiming clients with disabilities are injured-- just by visiting buildings-- causes rates to go up for insureds, even though proof of injuries is almost never produced. Video clips of two related investigations are posted below.
2 April 2003 Fox 6 News Investigation of one lawyer who has filed over 1,200 ADA/accessibility lawsuits:
Many "professional plaintiffs" would characterize themselves as crusaders for people with disabilities. It is interesting to note how few of these "crusaders" were filing accessibility lawsuits before it became profitable to do so. Click the icon at the right to view 150 lawsuits which have been filed demanding many millions of dollars each; the smallest of which are just under $1,000,000, and most are many times that! While some plaintiffs claim to be making demands on behalf of others in the disabled community who won't advocate for themselves, it is interesting to note to whom the settlement proceeds are ultimately paid!
In California, a plaintiff with disabilities can earn $12,000/day just eating 3 meals out. One plaintiff with disabilities (who can walk) has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits, in just the past few years.
The purpose of the ADA "is to place those with disabilities on equal footing and not to give them an unfair advantage."
(D'Amico v. NY State Bd. of Law Examiners (1993) 813 F. Supp 217, 221)
"Do as I say-- not as I do" See photos below of the offices of an attorney who has filed 600+ ADA/accessibility lawsuits against others. Note many of the same violations he's alleged injured his clients at others' locations; including:
Paper towel dispenser over 40" from floor
Soap dispenser beyond acceptable reach range
No grab bars in stalls
Seat paper dispenser above acceptable range
Mirror too high
Urinal too high
Pipes under sink not wrapped
Inadequate maneuvering room for wheelchair (partition could easily be removed)
Various irregularities in parking area
If you are a person with disabilities and have attempted to use this attorney's services, and were injured or deterred by the various accessibility impediments on his property, please Contact Us.
Disabled parking sign too low, not van accessible, paint barely visible, ramp in improper access aisle, no ISA symbol at door, no tow away signage
Paper towel dispenser too high, soap dispenser out of reach range
Seat paper dispenser too high, no grab bars, inadequate maneuvering range (easily fixed by removing partition)
Urinal too high
Pipes under sink not wrapped, could scald wheelchair user
Paper towel dispenser too high and out of reach range
Don't believe us? You can see this property for yourself at 7840 Mission Center Court, San Diego, CA 92108. If you have a disability and have had difficulty accessing this attorney's offices, please Contact Us. To see more pictures of this attorney's offices and other shocking information, please Click Here.
If you are currently being sued in an ADA/accessibility lawsuit, you may wish to visit ADAlawsuits.com.
If you would like to find the names of legislators who have voted against ADA/accessibility lawsuit reform, please see LegislativeDisgrace.com.
To see some proposed solutions which could improve some of the problems associated with ADA/accessibility lawsuits in California, please see: ADAreform.com.
To find a Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse group near you, please see: CALA.com.
If you are being sued by any of the individuals or firms mentioned in this website, or have information about the inappropriate use of disability claims for personal profit, you may wish to contact LawyersAgainstLawsuitAbuse, APC.
Please keep in mind that it has been estimated that 20% of Americans have disabilities-- that could be as many as 50,000,000 people or more. Many good people with disabilities have suffered unnecessarily because of the actions of the very few. Viewers are reminded that each of us may someday find ourselves with disabilities and urged to consider how we would feel if it was assumed that we had engaged in similar conduct to others, solely based on the fact that we had disabilities. Additionally, viewers are reminded that some plaintiffs bring accessibility lawsuits from a true need to gain access to commercial premises, only after previous attempts to informally resolve the matter have failed.
Any reference to any specific individual or organization on this website should not be construed to suggest that they are engaging in inappropriate conduct of any sort; a reference to an individual or organization in one area of this website does not mean they are involved in conduct described elsewhere herein. Any reference to court documents or an investigation is necessarily incomplete without reviewing the entire file on the matter; viewers should assume that postings on this website do not include all possible information which may be available as to any particular matter, and that some or all of such information might influence the impression the information in this website creates. There is no warranty, express or implied, that the claims or information represented herein is correct, or was correct at the time it was posted. This is is intended to be a convenient reference viewers can use to independently verify all matters represented herein.
This site is intended to provide useful information to individuals being sued in ADA/accessibility lawsuits, government officials and others; it is hoped that some of the information provided herein will lead to a change in the law.