ADA lawsuit abuse refers to instances where a person abuses the legal system by filing multiple lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A common example of this is where a person or persons visit many different business establishments with the intention of identifying ADA violations (such as a lack of handicap parking spaces, inaccessible bathrooms, or no wheelchair ramps).
Once they identify a potential violation, they may then attempt to sue the business establishment for injuries. In some cases, the person doesn’t even enter the business establishment—they may simply drive by the place, looking for violations outside or in the parking lot. They can target many businesses at a time, and seek to collect a large sum of money from the different businesses involved.
Are There Legal Penalties for Lawsuit Abuse?
Filing a frivolous lawsuit can lead to legal penalties. These can include a contempt order, monetary fines, and possible criminal charges. Other penalties and legal consequences may result depending on state laws.
In some cases, ADA lawsuit abuse may also involve filing a claim against an employer who is discriminating against a person with a disability. While it is illegal for an employer to engage in retaliatory discharge (i.e., firing an employee who files complaint), filing a frivolous discrimination lawsuit can also lead to legal penalties.
How Have Laws Changed to Adapt to ADA Lawsuit Abuse?
Many states and local municipalities have become aware of the phenomenon of widespread ADA lawsuit abuse. As such, some areas have adjusted their ADA policies to address the issue of lawsuit abuse. For instance, some states have lowered the minimum amount that a person must be claiming for filing an ADA lawsuit. This would subject business owners to less
Other states have required that the plaintiff be responsible for the defendant’s legal fees if they lose the lawsuit. This has often served as a deterrent in order to discourage persons from filing lawsuits that have no basis or that have a low likelihood of success in court.