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Serial Claimants Exploit the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and Cripple Florida Businesses

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According to a recent news investigation, a law designed to help give the disabled access in the state of Florida is potentially being used for abusive reasons. Specifically, one man in particular has allegedly filed more than 1,000 lawsuits against local Florida businesses for supposedly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), without even first bringing his concerns to the business owners and asking that they make specific changes to their accommodations (or even being a patron of the business itself).

In fact, many business owners claim that there are “ADA testers” filing various costly lawsuits—many of them over violations that have been called trivial, such as the height of a toilet paper dispenser being—and in doing so, potentially abusing the system for a cash payout.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA is designed to prevent employers from discriminating against hiring someone due to a disability, and mandates that businesses make reasonable accommodations such that the disabled have access to their facilities. Many have now pointed out that this second requirement is very difficult to comply with because of how specific it is currently worded in terms of the permissible heights of toilet paper dispensers and other amenities, for example. Because of this, they say, even advocates of the disabled have failed to find anything that is 100 percent compliant with the ADA.

Florida Is a Target for Fraud

Currently, Florida ranks as one of the top states for ADA noncompliance lawsuits and “drive by” testers. Close to 6,000 ADA lawsuits have been filed just over the last four years in Florida alone, and one in five of them was filed by this one person who was the subject of the investigation, Howard Cohan.

Much-Needed Reform

This has become such an issue that some U.S. representatives have taken action to introduce bills that would allow businesses 90 days to fix ADA violations before they could be sued. Some states—like California—already do provide businesses with a grace period to comply with the ADA before they can be sued. Rumor has it that states such as Arizona and Colorado are thinking of adopting similar laws. Even representatives in Florida—who have spent much of their careers advocating for disabled rights—have recognized that there is an issue with serial ADA filers and that there needs to be a grace period in place to allow for a business owner to address any potential ADA violations before being sued for them.

Professional Florida Business and Corporate Lawyers

Owning and operating a business involves dealing with a variety of different issues that could have potentially negative repercussions on your business. At HD Law Partners, our Tampa and Sarasota business & corporate law attorneys possess the legal knowledge and experience necessary to help prevent these conflicts before they occur. Our practice focuses on representing businesses and corporations in a variety of capacities, including those that may be the victims of fraudulent claims. Find out how we can help you by getting in touch today.

Resources:

wptv.com/longform/florida-businesses-in-battle-witih-so-called-serial-suers

frontpagemag.com/fpm/149369/exploiting-americans-disabilities-act-arnold-ahlert

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