CALA Research Shows Lawyers Target Businesses in Low-Income Neighborhoods for ADA Lawsuits
At a packed event today in Fresno, CALA unveiled a map showing the results of its work tracking Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits that are plaguing small businesses in the Central Valley. CALA was proud to stand next to the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, the Fresno Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Fresno Chapter of the American Petroleum & Convenience Store Association and condemn this abuse of our courts.
I’ve been working with victims of these lawsuits for years, and it’s been apparent to me that the bottom-feeding lawyers who are filing these lawsuits go out of their way to target small businesses in low-income neighborhoods.
The reason is simple: settling these types of lawsuits can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but paying a lawyer to fight it in court can be even more expensive – even if a business did nothing wrong. These lawyers know businesses in low-income areas are unlikely to have the financial resources to fight back and are likely to simply settle to make the lawsuit go away. On top of that, many of the small businesses owners targeted are immigrants who speak English as a second language and are unfamiliar with our legal system, making them easy targets for those who abuse the law for their own gain.
The below map shows the businesses in Fresno that have been targeted for ADA lawsuits in the past few years. See a pattern? If you’re familiar with Fresno, you’ll see a high proportion of the businesses targeted are in the low-income neighborhoods of Fresno. And while we haven’t crunched the numbers for other cities, the pattern is similar in other Central Valley cities, such as Modesto, Lodi, Manteca, and Merced.
The end result: businesses in the neighborhoods most in need of jobs are most likely to be victims of lawsuit abuse. And every dollar spent on settlements is a dollar they can’t spend expanding or creating jobs. It’s no wonder California’s legal system is consistently ranked at or near the bottom for fairness compared to other states, and that unemployment remains too high even as job creation in other states surges ahead.
California needs to reform its legal system so that it serves the interests of ordinary people, instead of just serving to enrich lawyers on the backs of small businesses.