By John Alan Doran
An Arizona trial court today put a stop to one of the more egregious abuses of civil rights laws, dismissing well over 1,000 lawsuits filed by ADA trolls against Arizona property owners and lessees. The explosion of ADA lawsuits in Arizona has been well documented by the media. But most of the explosion in this area was the product of one attorney, a supposed disability advocacy group he works with, and a small stable of serial litigant plaintiffs. The vast majority of the cases fit the same mold: the attorney has a so-called ADA “expert” drive around town looking for disability parking signs that are less than sixty inches above the ground. When such a sign is spotted, whether measured accurately or otherwise, the attorney pounces and immediately files a lawsuit. The attorney then makes a settlement demand in the range of $3,000-$7,500 and explains that if the property owner or lessee doesn’t settle, it will cost much more to litigate the case and the attorney will send his expert back to find even more supposed ADA violations. In hyper-technical legal lingo, this is what we call a “shakedown.” This particular group of shakedown artists filed somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 of these cases from January 2016 to the present.
Well, today this shakedown came to a screeching halt. A Maricopa County Superior Court Judge ruled from the bench today, in a case that has consolidated well over 1,000 of these cases, that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring these lawsuits in the first place. As a result, the cases will be dismissed immediately. While we cannot guess what will happen with these dismissals on appeal, we are encouraged by the Arizona Legislature’s very recent steps to shore up a gaping hole in the Arizonans With Disabilities Act that has effectively promoted and enabled these shakedowns.