More than a dozen shops and restaurants in the South Hill Strip Mall could go out of business because of a lawsuit that says they’re not compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
“The whole mall, he got everybody,” Clair Brown said. Brown owns a bar called Brownie’s. He and almost every other owner in the shopping center were hit with a lawsuit from Scott Johnson, the quadriplegic lawyer who has thousands of similar lawsuits under his belt. “I’ve never seen him, he’s never been in here,” said Brown.
“It would probably cost $20,000 dollars [to comply],” says Brown. “I don’t have that money.”
The papers on Brown’s bar counter state Brownie’s violates 28 ADA regulations.
A few doors down, a flower shop has a similar situation. Next door, a salon, the same thing.
“You can’t just go into businesses and start suing people” said Cathie Garcia, the salon owner. She told FOX40 Johnson came by a few weeks ago to buy a gift certificate, and asked to use the bathroom.
“He didn’t ask us to even help him,” she told FOX40. “All of us will be out of business, for sure, there’s no other choice.”
The choices: pay up and comply, fight the lawsuit, or go out of business.
“There’s no doubt that this is a legal loop hole,” said Congressman Dan Lungren, (R-Sacramento).
Lungren proposed a bill that would at least give business owners more time to comply.
“There’s been an abuse of the law, litigation after litigation,” Lungren told FOX40. Any of the owners in the South Hill Strip Mall told FOX40 they were never told they needed to comply with ADA regulations.
“When you get a business license, you should be handed the law right then,” said Garcia.
But, the city says business owners are responsible for complying, whether they were told or not. “I hate to see the legal system, threatened, as a way of accomplishing a goal,” said Lungren.
FOX40 has not yet heard back from Scott Johnson but in the past, he has called himself a crusader for the disabled.