NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Some Lawyers Profit From Disabilities Law

March 3, 2000

Many Americans probably don't realize it but the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't allow disabled plaintiffs to collect damages for violations to any of its 618 access standards. But it does permit lawyers to collect fees of up to $275 an hour.

  • Consequently, a few lawyers in south Florida filled nearly 600 lawsuits on businesses there in recent months.
  • In California, two lawyers filed 230 suits on behalf of just one client.
  • Observers say that local governments are often to blame if a business is not in compliance with ADA standards, because they issue safety and building permits for premises that violate ADA rules.
  • Moreover, businesses are often ignorant of the complex ADA requirements -- and that gives lawyers the opportunity to scout for violations and lucrative cases.

A bill being sponsored by Reps. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and Clay Shaw (R-Fla.) would require that businesses be given 90 days' notice of a violation before they can be sued. The idea is to allow businesses time to make their premises accessible and avoid legal costs.

Source: Editorial, "Loophole Lets Lawyers Sue Over Dubious Problems," USA Today, March 3, 2000.


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