March 18, 2005

In any given group, there's bound to be at least one jerk

Disabled con artists and their shyster lawyers are becoming a problem.

Gary Walker was horrified when legal documents arrived at his small restaurant notifying him that he was being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that requires wheelchair ramps and other features for the disabled.

The feeling turned to anger when Walker found out the man suing him, Shiloh Hobleman, had filed a series of practically carbon-copy lawsuits against more than a dozen small businesses in the area.

"Hobleman is what can only be characterized as a `serial plaintiff,'" Walker's lawyer said in court papers. "Except for the named defendants, each of the ADA complaints is virtually, if not exactly, identical to the instant suit — right down to the typographical and grammatical errors."

My wife Liz was in a wheelchair for several years. Here's an old post about that, and what I said about it:

We also got to be quite the crusaders for handicapped access. Our local Lions club replaced it’s front doors because they were a designated voting station, but wheelchairs couldn’t fit through them because of the center jamb. Two stores modified their register layouts because Liz raised enough hell (up to the county level) about wheelchair access and, more importantly, fire safety. I once got into it with the manager of a computer store (major chain) because they had the aisles packed with stacks of extra inventory, and I was kicking them over one by one as we shopped to make room for the wheelchair. He wanted to call the cops, but hesitated when I wanted that too. The county supervisor got involved and I assume they’ve changed their ways, but we’ve never gone back. I refuse to give my money to assholes.

You’d be surprised how many times someone pulls up in front of a store and blocks the wheelchair ramp. If they have the grace to apologize when they come running out and see us waiting, we’d figure they learned the lesson and be more aware next time. If they didn’t care, I’d scrape the chair along their car getting around it. Call the cops asshole, and make sure you mention how you were threatening a lady in a wheelchair.

So I've seen what kinds of problems the ADA is supposed to solve, and I've seen the difficulties caused for the disabled when those laws are ignored. At the same time, we never even considered suing.

I hope they can come up with some way to limit these nitwits who make a career out of filing ADA lawsuits (I especially like the judge's decision to not award costs to the one plaintiff). However they manage it, it'll have to be fair, and that's going to take someone with the wisdom of Solomon. And a thick damn skin, because you know the nanny-state believers will be crawling out from under every rock to whine about disabled rights.

Posted by Ted at March 18, 2005 06:02 AM
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