I’ve just got a few letters in the mail from some law firms telling me that i’ve been sued and would I like to use them for my defense. I looked up the case on pacermonitor and it looks like a legit filing of a lawsuit under the ADA. It’s from a ADA lawsuit factory that pumps out 100s of them each month. It seems like the most frequent filing lawyers office in Cali. This person has sued over 100 people in the past year and probably more in the past.
Did some research on this and seems like this is a new low for some shady lawyers looking to make an easy buck under the guise of helping others. Also seems like it’s spread to AZ, FL and other states and it’s become a big problem for small businesses. They are suing for faded and not visible parking lot paint and proper signs… and some other interior aisle width. Seems like Ca passed some laws the past few years to help small biz out with these in the SB269.
Anyhow, my property is in LA, CA and it’s being run by a tenant who is also named in the suit. The County Assessors, city tax office and FTB office has my current address (out of state) but somehow these notices and the lawsuit are all going to my past address in cali.
My first question is how do the lawyers suing me get my old address? I just switched address less than 1 year ago but maybe I didn’t change my address with an agency I didn’t know to do it with? I thought I’d tell the people who tax me where to send the bills to… that would be it.
Second is… if the lawyers suing me can’t find me… what happens? If they have to serve me and I can’t be found during the time that I am to be served.? But I"m sure my tenant can’t avoid the service at the business. (Will they USPS mail me first instead before sending someone out to find me?) Just asking, what if… If they will charge me more bc they had to serve me then i would rather not incur more “fees” from these lawyers…
What’s a good legal forum to seek some answers before I reach out to a lawyer and ask more prepared questions rather than starting from the ground up?
If others are asking what type of lawsuit this is… just google ADA Abuse lawsuits or drive by ada lawsuits on youtube. They hit small biz restaurants, stores, gas stations to even the DMV, City offices and big corporations.
Does your tenant indemnify you in the lease with you?
Seems like a matter to turn over to either their insurance or your insurance.
(Since you specifically solicited legal advice from lawyers in your title, your probably not going to get any responses from lawyers. Lawyers need to be very careful about giving legal advice on such forums, for a number of reasons).
Not a lawyer and this is just a guess, so take it for what it is worth.
Are you the registered agent for your business? Did you change the address of the registered agent of your business with Cali’s equivalent of the State Corporation Commission? A lot of times, lawsuits are sent to the business’s registered agent.
Hopefully you have good liability insurance and can file a claim for defence of you and the tenant.
Process service varies by jurisdiction, but there are any number of ways it can occur. Some jurisdictions require personal service (meaning the suit papers are handed to you in person), some allow for posting, some allow for publication and many allow for substitute service or service on an interested party as appears to be the case of your tenant. The manner in which process is served also varies with the court, whether the matter is a criminal or civil manner and the nature of the controversy.
As it appears service may have occurred on the tenant, don’t take a chance and ignore the matter. Seek competent local counsel either directly or through your insurance company. You may be risking your property income, equity, or both if you don’t take protective and defensive action timely.
As to your address being available, the post office will forward a new address to a correspondent on request, and the internet is full of trackable details on any number of what ought to be private matters.
Property tax records, for example, are often freely searchable online and include address details. Similarly for court records, and most correspondence you’ve ever had with most government entities is subject to free disclosure for any, or no, reason.
And, as you may have heard, there’s a thing called the dark web that has all that stuff that’s been hacked over the years — not freely available, but the cost of obtaining it is cheap.
Yeah I’m thinking I should have just wrote it without the lawyers advice part…
Any info provided in this thread will be for “entertainment” purposes only so feel free to share anything… Comment in this thread will NOT be viewed as legal advice nor starting a lawyer client relations.
Slappycakes is dead on. When I heard/read of this years ago, it was some scumbag /lawyer team in Cali quite literally going from strip mall to strip mall to restaurant (typically not chains at the time) and finding (as there is ALWAYS something to be found which doesn’t comply to the ADA guidelines/"laws’) then filing and shortly thereafter they received what you just did, in the mail. They don’t want you to fight it and as you see if they submit hundreds per month and, back then (10+ years ago) the avg settlement was for < $2500, you start to see the amount of $$ they can make being a scumbag piece of crap…“protecting the disabled”
I’m a little hazy on the article, but believe people weren’t fighting it exactly b/c they were deficient and had they pursued it, it would have been larger amounts in addition to having to fix whatever they found.
No real advice. Sad as it is, I think you pay them and move on (or tender to insurance and move on). Sounds defeatist, but these guys know what they’re doing. They find technical deficiencies, and they’ll have a client ready to file suit. Assuming the violation is legit, you will almost certainly lose.
FWIW, there’s some efforts to amend the ADA in an effort to crack down on this type of behavior.
If the lawyer can’t find you, they may get permission to serve you using alternative means and then proceed to a default judgment against you. Not a good idea.
No hurt feelings. I was curious if you knew that I’m a lawyer who has familiarity with these types of lawsuits. The fact is, this law is ripe for abuse by plaintiffs lawyers. When they have a violation (however technical it might be), the best thing to do is move on, give them what they want, and fix the violation. If the violation is BS, that’s a different matter.
Abusing the law with frivolous lawsuits at the expense of people like the OP is what makes your buddy a scumbag.
This isn’t a matter of just following the law like a good upstanding citizen. BS. This is your buddy and other scumbag lawyers exploiting the system by filing frivolous lawsuits to bully people to pay them.
Its a valid point that the law needs to be improved, but in the meantime if someone exploits the law against the intention of the law just for financial gain to treat small businesses like an ATM then they’re a scumbag.
I cant sue a doctor for malpractice that harmed you. I do sue a bank for violating the law in their dealings with me.
The perception of being a “scumbag” comes from the fact that your buddy isnt who’s being protected by ADA laws and isnt the one being harmed (actually or theoretically) by the violations. I wouldnt take such a hard stance, but I can understand where jerosen is coming from. If you got a ticket for parking on the sidewalk in your front yard, and found out it was only because some random person was driving around and called the police when they saw your car, you’d call that person something along the lines of a scumbag, too.
By “not suing anyone”, do you mean you showed up with a claim and a baseball bat, and “convinced” them to keep the lawyers out of it? Or are you benefiting from ADA requirements due to how they apply to your own personal circumstances? There’s a pretty big difference.
The whole point is that someone in a wheelchair should be the one suing a business over a door that’s too narrow to accommodate a wheelchair. The laws are in place to ensure access, a lack of access should be the claim.
Harmed? Maybe not so much. But that person is denied a letter they are legally entitled to.
So much money is proactively wasted on ADA compliance for things that are, quite literally, never used by anyone, ever. It’s fair for a business to decide to take the risk of denying access to someone and incurring that liability. It’s much less fair for them to have to face third parties sending in moles to access the premises for the sole purpose of manufacturing claims over couple inches of technical non-compliance. I’d have no problem with your buddy soliciting clients that have been harmed by ADA violations, but he’s the one staging the harm. Seriously, was his client harmed because a business’s counter was too high? Or was his client harmed by his lawyer sending him into a business that he’d otherwise never go to?
Would be super interested to hear more about this practice. When I was a young lawyer, we defended one of these. And by “defended,” I mean we immediately realized that there was nothing to argue (the curbs were in fact .25 inches too high in the parking garage) and told client to promptly pay up.