In the past few months David Ritzenthaler, a Scottsdale resident, and Santiago Abreu, a Florida resident, have filed more than 450 lawsuits against Arizona businesses alleging an assortment of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Read my earlier blogs about Mr. Ritzenthaler’s lawsuits here, here and here and Mr. Abreu’s lawsuits here.
Although not as prolific as Mr. Ritzenthaler, Santiago Abreu, a Florida resident, is targeting Arizona restaurants and bars with his lawsuits. He specifically focuses on ADA violations in the bathrooms—such as improper urinal heights and improper placement of mirrors, soap dispensers and grab bars. In the bar area, he alleges that the service counter is too high for—and thus discriminatory against—a wheelchair bound individual.
Mr. Ritzenthaler’s lawsuits only focus on a business’s handicapped parking spaces. Specifically, he looks at the location, dimensions and signage. I have personally defended more than 60 of these cases and, while I have been able to get a handful immediately dismissed because my clients were exempt under the ADA’s “safe harbor” provision, the reality is that very few parking lots in Arizona fully comply with the ADA.
Business owners should contact a knowledgeable ADA attorney or consultant to perform a quick onsite inspection. Doing so could end up saving their business thousands of dollars and help the business owner sleep better knowing that she won’t be targeted by these two serial plaintiffs.
Lindsay Leavitt is a business litigation and employment law attorney at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, P.L.C. He regularly represents businesses in ADA compliance related disputes and provides advice on preventative measures.