Marty Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, was recently interviewed by ABC7 for a news report regarding the impact of serial ADA litigants on small businesses. The segment focused on a group of businesses in Santa Paula, California, who have been hit with lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The significant financial penalties imposed by these lawsuits threaten to close already struggling stores and restaurants.

During the segment, Marty discussed the California Unruh Civil Rights Act which requires businesses and public accommodations to provide equal access to their services and facilities. He explained that the Unruh Act “allows a plaintiff to recover $4,000 per occurrence every time they went to a particular business, or every time they thought of going but they realize there were barriers and they couldn’t get served.” The Unruh Act is often abused by serial plaintiffs who file hundreds of lawsuits every year, each claiming thousands of dollars in statutory damages.

These serial lawsuits can be incredibly damaging for businesses and are the antithesis of genuine legal action by advocates trying to make their communities more accessible.

You can watch the full ABC7 news report here.

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The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) were recently updated to version 2.2, adding new considerations for businesses seeking to make their websites accessible. As most business have an online presence, there are some critical requirements of WCAG 2.2 that all business owners should know.

The WCAG standards, published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), are often referenced by courts in the US when deciding whether a website complies with the ADA or Unruh Civil Rights Act. The new version WCAG 2.2 adds the following requirements:

  • 2.4.11/2.4.12 Focus Not Obscured: Ensures keyboard focus indicators (such as the blinking cursor or focus box around buttons and links) remain visible despite pop-ups or other content, with a stricter AAA version demanding complete unobscuring. See the example below:ADA-Website
  • 2.4.13 Focus Appearance: Defines technical standards for the keyboard focus indicator outline for low-vision users.
  • 2.5.7 Dragging Movements: Requires alternative ways to complete actions if they involve dragging, except for essential functionality.
  • 2.5.8 Target Size: Provides minimum size requirements for clickable elements like buttons and links.
  • 3.2.6 Consistent Help: Ensures help functionalities (e.g., company contact details or self-help option) remain in the same place across all pages for screen reader users.
  • 3.3.7 Redundant Entry: Auto-populates or allows re-selection of previously entered information to aid users with cognitive or memory disabilities.
  • 3.3.8/3.3.9 Accessible Authentication: Prohibits cognitive function tests during authentication, with the AAA version removing more exceptions.

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Pacific Trial Attorneys, as legal counsel, have filed hundreds of lawsuits for alleged violations of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code § 51 et seq. and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Based in Newport Beach, CA, Pacific Trial Attorneys is a law firm representing plaintiffs in a large number of accessibility lawsuits against businesses, often focused on website issues.

Generally, these lawsuits are filed by serial plaintiffs through their attorneys. Serial plaintiffs file numerous (sometimes hundreds) of lawsuits, often similar in nature. Pacific Trial Attorneys has historically filed such litigation on behalf of one of these plaintiffs:

  • Cheryl Thurston
  • Brittany Mejico
  • Dominick Martin
  • Rusty Rendon
  • Luis Licea
  • Isabel Rendon
  • Drew Hunthausen
  • Walter Mitchell
  • Anita Ogletree

These lawsuit show no signs of stopping. Each lawsuit includes a summons as a cover page informing you that you have been sued and requiring a response. Next is the complaint itself, which generally looks something like this:

PTA-Complaint

The complaints have often stated in the first paragraph, “As recently recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States, ‘The Internet’s prevalence and power have changed the dynamics of the national economy.'”

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So. Cal. Equal Access Group is a law firm based in Los Angeles, CA that files a large number of physical accessibility lawsuits against businesses and landlords. The attorneys who are part of the law firm include Jason J. Kim, Jason Yoon, and Kevin Hong. Their lawsuits generally allege violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act and California’s Disabled persons Act.

Generally, the lawsuits are filed on behalf of serial plaintiffs, who file dozens or hundreds of nearly identical lawsuits. So. Cal. Equal Access Group often files each lawsuit on behalf of one of the plaintiffs listed below:

  • Lamar Myers
  • Maria Garcia
  • Ignacio Vera
  • Miguel Hernandez
  • Oscar Magallanes
  • Colton Bryant
  • Moises Villalobos
  • Michael Rhambo
  • Ana Ventura
  • Jesus Garcia
  • Dennis Cooper
  • Juan Valencia
  • Nelson Chilin
  • Miriam Maldonado
  • Yeong Lee
  • Marquise Bailey
  • Alvaro Orosco
  • Luz Zendejas
  • Jeremy Holland
  • Guri Gonzalez
  • Yuri Doering
  • Joshua Cuevas
  • Sam Benford
  • Deondre Raglin

Each lawsuit will generally allege that one of the above plaintiffs is physically disabled, that he or she visited the property on a certain date (often several months before filing the lawsuit), and that he or she encountered accessibility barriers that prevented full and equal access at the property. Common barriers alleged include the following: Continue ›

The prevailing wisdom in Americans with Disabilities Act litigation is that defendants who successfully prevail in ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act lawsuits cannot recover their attorneys’ fees or defense costs. This prevailing wisdom compels most businesses to settle, rather than pursue a meritless case to summary judgment or trial. The tide may just be changing as more courts are awarding successful defendants their attorney’s fees and defense costs.

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As we recently posted, a JMBM client was awarded over $100,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs in two separate cases. The first award of fees and costs was against high frequency litigant Orlando Garcia, and the second award was against the law firm representing him, the Center for Disability Access. Garcia and the Center for Disability Access appealed the awards; however, our clients will nevertheless seek to enforce the judgments pending the appeals. Continue ›

Recently, at least three attorneys who formerly worked for Center for Disability Access (AKA Potter Handy, LLP) branched off and founded a new firm called Seabock Price, APC. The founding attorneys are Amanda Seabock, Christopher Seabock and Dennis Price. The new law firm is based in Pasadena, California.

Seabock Price has been filing disability discrimination lawsuits against businesses and landlords in California. Generally, these lawsuits are filed on behalf of serial plaintiffs who have filed many nearly identical cases for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, and/or the California Disabled Persons Act.

The lawsuits are generally filed on behalf of one of the following plaintiffs:

  • Rafael Arroyo
  • Dolores Lara-Fierro
  • Christopher Langer
  • Raul Uriarte Limon
  • Dwain Lammey
  • Martin Vogel
  • Anthony R. Gandara
  • Breanna Ballard
  • Jose Madriz
  • Tonia Sartin

From what we have seen, these cases are usually filed in Superior Court for the State of California, County of Los Angeles. The lawsuits can be filed in other counties as well. These lawsuits generally allege that the plaintiff is disabled and visited the property or business but encountered barriers to access, such as issues with the accessible parking slope, signage, path of travel to the entrance, checkout counters, bathrooms or other features. The complaints  generally look something like this: Continue ›

The Center for Disability Access (AKA Potter Handy, LLP) has filed thousands of lawsuits on behalf of serial plaintiffs for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, and/or the California Disabled Persons Act.

The lawsuit is generally filed on behalf of one of the plaintiffs listed below:

  • Scott Johnson
  • Brian Whitaker
  • Antonio Fernandez
  • Orlando Garcia
  • James Zarian
  • Nehemiah Kong
  • Luis Marquez

Most commonly these days, the lawsuit is filed in Superior Court for the State of California – often the County of Los Angeles. Sometimes the lawsuits are filed in other counties in the state. The lawsuit will allege that the plaintiff is disabled and visited the property but encountered barriers to access. The complaint will generally look something like this: Continue ›

JMBM-ADA-300x169Recently, JMBM reported that it successfully defended a website accessibility lawsuit on behalf of its client Zarco Hotels, against serial plaintiff Traci Morgan. In that case, the court awarded Zarco Hotels $55,414.84 in compensation for its attorneys’ fees and costs.

JMBM and Zarco Hotels have prevailed again. On July 11, 2023, a different court awarded Zarco Hotels attorneys’ fees and costs related to a separate ADA lawsuit regarding hotel reservations.

Garcia v. Zarco Hotels, Inc., Case No. 21STCV00023 (Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles) involved claims by serial plaintiff Orlando Garcia, who has filed hundreds of similar lawsuits against businesses in California. The same law firm, Potter Handy, LLP (AKA Center for Disability Access) represented Morgan and Garcia in both cases.

Garcia alleged that the Hollywood Hotel’s reservation requirements did not comply with the ADA because the website did not provide enough information about the physical accessibility features of the hotel. See our article on this issue here: ADA Requires Hotels To Describe Accessibility Features On Website. Continue ›

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In March 2022, serial Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) plaintiff Traci Morgan filed a lawsuit against Zarco Hotels Inc., alleging that the hotel’s website was not accessible in violation of the ADA and Unruh Civil Rights Act.

The plaintiff alleged he was blind, and that the Hollywood Hotel’s website was not compatible with software that scans the website pages and reads them aloud to him. Morgan had filed hundreds of nearly identical lawsuits in the past, represented by notorious law firm Potter Handy, LLP (AKA Center for Disability Access).

JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense team, led by Stuart K. Tubis, Esq. and Martin Orlick Esq., represented the hotel’s owner, Zarco Hotels, Inc. After investigating the website’s underlying code at the outset of the case using website experts at Accessible Crew and finding that the website met or exceeded WCAG 2.1 Level AA Standards, they concluded that the claims lacked merit and that the website was, in fact, accessible.

These facts were presented to Morgan’s attorneys in technical detail, with a request that the lawsuit be dropped. Morgan refused.

It is not uncommon for ADA plaintiffs who file hundreds of lawsuits to refuse to drop lawsuits, even when they lack merit. Instead, they often try to pressure the defendant into settlement to avoid expensive litigation. Zarco Hotels was not intimidated and instructed JMBM to file a motion for summary judgement on its behalf, which was filed on August 18, 2022. Facing a likely defeat, Morgan finally dismissed the lawsuit before the motion could be heard. Continue ›

Today, the US Access Board announced that it is seeking final public comment on its newly proposed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines for the use of lower transfer heights for medical diagnostic equipment in medical diagnostics and treatment. The US Access Board is the federal organization that develops guidelines for the ADA. It works with professionals and advocacy groups to develop guidelines for various aspects of the ADA to provide greater access to goods and services. The Access Board is required to seek public comment before finalizing its proposed guidelines. After receiving public comment, the Access Board presents its proposed guidelines to the Department of Justice (DOJ) which then adopts all or part of the proposed guidelines into the ADA.

The Access board has been working for some time on the development of formal guidelines for lower transfer heights of medical diagnostic equipment. Once implemented, these guidelines will have an immediate impact on diagnostic equipment manufacturers, hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices throughout the country. The lower height requirements are intended to provide easier transfer for patients using wheelchairs, walkers, or other assistive devices. These diagnostic devices typically include, among other things, examination tables, scanning devices, and chairs for diagnosis.

Historically, medical diagnostic equipment (MDE) has been, and continues to be, inaccessible to many people in wheelchairs, which can lead to misdiagnosis or barriers to basic care and examinations. Continue ›