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ADA Shakedowns: What to Know and What to Do

05/12/2017

If you own or operate a business or property, you may have heard about the recent “shakedowns” based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). The ADA was signed into law with the laudable goal of extending civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. However, it appears that the ADA has been increasingly abused by a small group of plaintiff’s attorneys as a means to extract payments from unwitting businesses, regardless of the merits of the alleged violations.

The ploy is simple:

An individual enters your business with the sole purpose of finding (sometimes incredibly minor) violations of the ADA. Shortly after, the individual’s attorney either files a lawsuit (with the hope you will settle) or sends you a letter demanding a quick money settlement and threatening an ADA lawsuit if you don’t pay.

What to know:

The ADA doesn’t allow a plaintiff to collect money damages. Instead, it only allows a plaintiff to obtain an injunction ordering your business to come into compliance with the ADA. Importantly, a successful plaintiff can also obtain a court order for your business to pay his or her attorney’s fees. The prospect of having to pay the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees is what forces most businesses to pay.

What to do:

The best practice is to comply with the ADA. In most cases, the right course of action upon receipt of a claim is to promptly and voluntarily bring your business into compliance with the ADA. If you do, your business has a good argument to get the plaintiff’s claims dismissed – without paying the plaintiff’s attorney’s fees. Attorneys at Moye White have successfully won dismissals of plaintiffs’ claims by forcefully responding to these types of demands and lawsuits.

Questions?

If you receive a letter or a complaint based on alleged violations of the ADA, contact your attorney at Moye White to discuss how best to respond.

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