Serial ADA Suits Assail NYC Eateries Despite Recent Rebuke

October 10, 2013 – In The News

Carolyn D. Richmond was quoted in the Law360 article “Serial ADA Suits Assail NYC Eateries Despite Recent Rebuke.” While the full text can be found in the October 10, 2013, issue of Law360, a synopsis is noted below.

Earlier this year, a New York federal judge cracked down on a serial Americans with Disabilities Act plaintiff stating that the plaintiff and his counsel were not acting in the spirit of the ADA and that such suits were about “lining counsel’s pockets.”

“It was a nice decision, but it didn’t really have any impact,” said Richmond. “You bite the head off one and it’s like a weed. We just had three or four more that grew in its place.”

New York and California are especially prone states for serial litigators since the state’s civil rights laws allow for significant damages awards if violations can be proved. Many attorneys have seen the damages requested rise in recent years.

“I’ve certainly found plaintiffs [attorneys] that have been more diligent about running up fees. This really is the pinnacle of drive-by litigation,” Richmond said.

Drive-by litigants are also being kept afloat by the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2011 investigation of New York City’s top 50 Zagat-rated dining establishments. There are several actions that resulted from the investigation that are currently ongoing.

Unfortunately for restaurant owners, settlements do not protect them from other actions.

“Employers are just handing out money hand over fist, but just because you resolve things with the DOJ doesn’t mean you’re immune from other suits,” Richmond noted. “This is reform that’s needed at the legislative level.”

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