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Today, we got sued!

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by JRB, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. JRB

    JRB PFG, Picture Framing God

    It came in the regular mail today. A complete, lawsuit from a lawyer demanding $10,500.00. He has given us until tomorrow to respond and until Friday to pay his demand. He said after that, the prices will increase daily.

    He has sent the letter and suit to every business on our block, about eight businesses. He claims we are not handicapped compliant.

    His client is a 71 year old black woman who is in a wheelchair, is blind, drives a van.

    We must have a handicapped, van accessible parking space (we do), access to our store for a wheelchair (we do), electronic signage throughout our store for the visually impaired, (we don't) Braille signs and directions for the visually impaired, (we don't) counters and passageways for the wheelchair bound customers (we do), handicapped accessible restrooms. (we do).

    His cover letter is just blatant extortion, aimed at small businesses who obviously lack the resources to mount a solid defense.

    I sent the package via fax to the California state bar association, the San Diego city attorney fraud division, and my lawyers. My lawyers, it's a large firm, actually has one attorney who works full time defending clients against this one sleezeball lawyer. She is sending a specialist out to my store to get us in full compliance.

    She said we can not win, we have to settle with this clown. If we go to court, we will end up spending over 100K. If we settle and get in compliance, it will be around five or six thousand, total.

    This guy is working every small business in San Diego. Expect the same in your town soon.

    John
     
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  2. framinzfun

    framinzfun MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    That just makes me sick. It really takes the fun out of trying to run a business. I bet that wheelchair bound lady doesn't even shop at the places they're suing. However, is she really blind and driving a van, if so, she may have more problems than a few braille signs here and there. Do you even have to have a public restroom in your store?
    I hate lawyers that take these sort of cases, like the guys that sue McDonald's because someone ate too many fries.
     
  3. Handy

    Handy MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    OMG!! that is horrifying!!

    So if you have to pay this guy 10,000, how can you afford to make the improvements??

    do you own your own building or are you leasing? I would think that would be the landlord's responsibility to provide these things.

    unbelievable!!!
     
  4. Rogatory

    Rogatory SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Why don't you sue the people that let a blind woman drive!
    But seriously, I read an article where a lawyer was investigated doing this same practice and found guilty of tying up court needlessly and lost his license.
     
  5. Sherry Lee

    Sherry Lee SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    John, that is SO sad!

    Seems to me I'd gather the other businesses on your block real fast - hold a meeting to gather 'ammo' and then gather at City Hall!!
    There's power in numbers.

    Good luck and keep us posted! Good grief!
     
  6. Janet L

    Janet L SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    John, isn't there some kinda "grandfather" clause your place would fall under? Seems the bldg. inspector isn't doing his job if there is something lacking that was supposed to be in place. I know every state is different.

    What does your landlord have to say?
     
  7. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

     
  8. The King

    The King SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    It happened here a few years ago.

    Businesses (not including mine) were being sued left-and-right for accessibility issues by an out-of-state firm that has no interest at all in compliance. It's all about the money. I believe my shop was untouched because it was obvious I had very little of it.

    I started a thread about this very thing on the business forum a while back. I'll see if I can find it.

    Here's that link:
    http://www.thegrumble.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=11;t=000955#000022

    Good luck, John. This sucks.
     
  9. Jay H

    Jay H PFG, Picture Framing God

    Dang John. Whats next? I'm thinking you need a vacation and let the aura clear out of that place.
     
  10. Framing Goddess

    Framing Goddess SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    This probably happens more than we know about it but we never hear about it.

    That's because many small businesses would just fold rather than have something like this bankrupt them.

    Keep us posted, John. I would like to know how everyone handled this crook.

    edie the grrrrrrrr goddess
     
  11. Garnetta

    Garnetta CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    If you pay this idiot will that be considered an acknowledgment of guilt? Can he come back to you every week with a new client and sue you with the same thing?

    Ugh. I'd love to hear how this turns out.

    Garnetta
     
  12. Peter Bowe

    Peter Bowe CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Somebody once told me that, as a small business owner you either;
    -have been sued
    -are being sued
    -or will be sued.

    My sympathies John - this definitely comes under the heading of if its not one d amn thing its another - and you certainly seem to be getting shelled lately.

    Peter
     
  13. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    On the serious side, we had a customer who used to be sighted. She would be escorted into our shop ( our old shop) with a relative to purchanse custom framing for her home. She was very pleasant and we helped her out as best we could.

    Because she lost her sight, she did not feel that her home should be set up for only the non-sighted.
     
  14. HannaFate

    HannaFate SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Can you post the name an contact information of that "lawyer"?
     
  15. BILL WARD

    BILL WARD SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    dontknow...sounds like the classic definitionof extortion, to me! maybe the eticis "committee" should belooking into/dealing with this creep!there was a guy in fl 1-3 yrs ago making a living doing this very thing(same guy??).....if this isnt grounds for disbarment I cant think of anything less lawyer-like that should be!!!!! puts ambulance chasers into the back seat for sleazzzzzzzz
     
  16. dougj

    dougj SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    She must have really long arms to reach the braille stop sign
     
  17. JbNormandog

    JbNormandog SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    When I opened the local building inspector made me jump through hoops to open.

    He measured the toilet paper holder, vanity mirror, isle width, bathroom signage, EVERYTHING!

    I guess things like this is why.

    Good luck John, this really sucks and I hope the best for you.
     
  18. Jack Cee

    Jack Cee MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Read the "Americans with Disabilities Act" that has been on the books for several years. One example is: "If you have a restroom that is for public use, it must comply to the act or you may be liable". As a result of the Act, a new economy has surfaced that survives on the suits filed. Bring your facilities up to comply with the Act or suffer the consequences. I didn't say is was right, just legal.

    Jack Cee
     
  19. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Sooner or later that kind of extortion will be stopped, but not until the problem acquires national press coverage.

    I suggest calling Oprah Winfrey, Howard Stern, Bill O'Reilly, and every other national commentator you can find. Perhaps one of them is looking for a new crusade.

    As usual, defending against this lawsuit would cost more than negotiating a settlement. But right or wrong, the financial damage can be crippling or fatal to a small business.
     
  20. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Too bad you don't know someone in the Mafia.

    You could have that guy's legs broken cheaper than the settlement amount.
     
  21. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'd be afraid that that might be construed as slander (or is it liable?) Since this is a "public" forum it could be defamation of character.

    Not saying it is one way or the other, but if the guy is making a living suing where it is not appropiate this is just one more potential pool for him to fish in!
     
  22. Tim Hayes.

    Tim Hayes. SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

  23. Rozmataz

    Rozmataz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Oh, John... I hope you can fight this in some way - along with your neighbors - and win. It is so sleezy the way some people operate - I hate it. Can you counter sue.

    I can see where someone could go to the local town and place a complaint if someone is truly not in compliance, and receive a citation and have to bring it into compliance. But to be sued/extorted. It is an umbrella lawsuit - and I think there should be a law against them and how they are handled. It is not that this woman even entered any of these shops and was subjected to inability to enter due to lack of compliance.

    This REALLY sucks big time. Our legal system needs reworking if people can get away with this under the auspices of "legal".

    Roz
     
  24. J Phipps TN

    J Phipps TN SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Dougj,

    LOL! That was too funny.

    On a serious note, Are you all incorporated? And do you think it would help in this situation? I mean at the very least they couldn't sue you personally, right?

    I was just wondering.

    Jennifer
     
  25. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    What type of signage is this (electronic signage). I understand braille signs on elevators and bathrooms etc. What other braille signs are needed in a single floor building.
     
  26. Mick11

    Mick11 CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    This guy is definitely a crook.

    In the UK we have the Law Society that every Lawyer/solicitor must be a member of to practice. It was set up to protect both lawyers, and the public from extortion like this.Here this guy would be thrown out on his a$$ and never allowed to practice again.
    Don't you have anything similar in the States?

    Also this type of legislation can only be actioned by the Heath and Safety authorities, and you would have time to rectify anything they found wrong with your premises, and it would have to be pretty bad before they took any action.

    The only time lawyers would be involved would be if someone was injured by any acts or ommisions on your part.
     
  27. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Mick,

    each state has a "Bar Association". They are self enforcing...... though not effective most of the time.
     
  28. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Slandering a lawyer? How on earth is that possible??

    I think there should be a nation-wide class-action suit against all lawyers, for wasting the public's time and money and for just being plain aholes!

    But getting back to the subject: I think making this public as some suggested and fighting it using the public opinion is a very powerful weapon.

    Can this bottom-feeder prove his blind client was really coming to your business and was somehow prevented?? I doubt it.
     
  29. Bill Henry-

    Bill Henry- SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Yeah, Mick, when they get too egregious we send them to congress.
     
  30. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    I've had the experience of being handicapped lately, not in a wheelchair, but certainly unable to get around well. I don't know what I would've done without the ramps, as even a very small step turns into an impossible one. Also, public restrooms with those rails in the stalls have been a lifesaver (I actually got "stuck" in someone's house, had to call for help!) I SO appreciate the handicap parking, never did before, sure do now. I have experienced being visually impaired for years, and actually learned braille years ago.
    I can understand handicap folks rallying for commpliance, but this is not about that, it's about one man's sleazy attempts, and successes, at taking advantage of the handicapped themselves, on one grand scale. I wonder how much of that $10,000 do the represented actually get? Not much, I'd bet, Attorney's fees are costly and I'm sure he runs up the bill.
    I agree with calling Oprah and Co., but I wonder if they'd balk, because they might offend the handicapped community and really be stir up a pot of stew?
    Remember not long ago mine and Scott's experience with the guy trying to defraud us through the hearing impaired telephone relay system? Another example of someone taking advantage of something that should be ONLY used for the hearing impaired, and possibly ruining it for the next actual hearing impaired person.
    This just makes me seeth.
    Also, I understand your hesitance to disclose Mr. Sleezy Attorney's identification, but I don't believe he has a character left to defame, nor a reputation left to liabel. But I'm sure that wouldn't stop him and he'd have a blast giving that one some mileage!
    Isn't there anything we can do, collectively, as Grumblers (small business owners) to help?? And/or protect ouselves from future attempts? Compliance is the key, I understand, but some just can't afford the entire deal. I'm scratching my head. [​IMG]
     
  31. PaulSF

    PaulSF PFG, Picture Framing God

    File a motion for sanctions, asking the court to award you $100 million because this guy is filing a frivolous lawsuit against you (at the risk of seeming insensitive, why does a blind person need custom framing?). And file a complaint against him with the state and local bar associations. You may have to settle, but you'll settle on better terms for you if you light a fire under his sleazy tush.
     
  32. FramerRandy

    FramerRandy CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    John,
    I'm sorry to hear this happening. Up here in North San Diego County, a similar lawyer (same one?) is sueing most of the businesses in Julian for the same thing. [​IMG] It ends up being a costly defense but they have banded together against this lawyer. Good luck. [​IMG]
     
  33. AnneL

    AnneL SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Paul, please don't lump all lawyers into one group. There alot of lawyers who do good work and alot of what we consider our rights we wouldn't have if it wasn't for lawyers who defend them. Not all lawyers are bottom feeders like the ones bringing these frivolous lawsuits.

    By the way, did I mention my daughter plans to go to law school after she graduates college next year?
     
  34. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Didn't mean to upset you Anne, and you are right, not all lawyers are unscrupulous.

    But many give a few a bad name... ;)

    Actually, I almost married a lawyer a year ago, and her being a lawyer was not the reason I changed my mind!
     
  35. JohnR

    JohnR MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    He's a gold digger along with the blind Women that is going along with him. They sue hoping people are scared into some sort of settlement. They are sock tuckers. Like the others have said, band together and oust this turkey.
    John
     
  36. ERIC

    ERIC SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Where is the Chamber of Commerce on this????

    Not just local, buy state and national too.
     
  37. AnneL

    AnneL SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    No problem Paul. I just don't like broad generalizations about any group. Your right about a few giving the the profession a bad name but that happens in alot of professions.
     
  38. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    But then he would be in a wheelchair, and would just sue personally.
    :mad: Rick
     
  39. Val

    Val PFG, Picture Framing God

    I printed John's opening post and took it to my shop next-door-neighbor attorney. He was furious! Said this is BLACKMAIL, pure and simple. He was bothered that it might cause generalizations in the legal profession....more concerned that this kind of suit could happen here, anywhere else and that it's happened to you. Asked if anyone's tried to have him disbarred (I'm sure), called the local State's D.A (I'm sure), and why is he being allowed to continue this BLACKMAIL? And shame on the blind driving lady (he also suggested turning her in to DMV), but she may be involved with faith that, according to him, is in her best interest and that of other handicap folks... think?
     
  40. Rogatory

    Rogatory SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    [​IMG] (As David spews water through his nose)
     
  41. JbNormandog

    JbNormandog SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    A bit off topic but at the drive through ATM at my bank the numbers are engraved with braile as well.

    My bathroom signage had to be at a certain height with braile and full handicapped accesibility. As a result the bathroom is bigger than my office and compressor space.
     
  42. The King

    The King SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm sure that John is gratified to hear all the support and righteous indignation at what's happening, but give the shyster lawyer a little credit. What he's doing may not be moral, it may not be fair, but you can bet it's legal.

    Read the law before you demand disbarment. It's a well-intentioned federal law that's gone postal.

    And don't think, "It can't happen here."
     
  43. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    Now that's an oxymoron....you cannot say "well-intentioned" and "federal law" in one sentence!!
     
  44. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    John,

    DO you have umbrella insurance?? It should cover the law suit if you do.

    Good Luck
     
  45. MnSue

    MnSue SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    didn't this happen in California when Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel too. Someone started doing this type of lawsuit on old restored historical buildings, I think it was. Might be worth checking out the outcome of those suits.

    Good luck.
     
  46. Rick Granick

    Rick Granick SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Did Clint ask the crooks if they were feeling "lucky" that day?
    :eek: Rick
     
  47. Mike LeCompte CPF

    Mike LeCompte CPF MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    I'm looking at this from the other side of the coin, having a son in a wheelchair with a canine assistant.

    Yes, there are many places we simply cannot go: aisles too small, front doors inaccessible--esp in historically designated areas where compliance is not mandatory But what the heck: we either don't shop there, go somewhere else, or my wife goes into the store while son, dog and I wait outside.

    Some places see "dog" not ADA-certified canine assistant. Thats OK too.

    But I can tell you from being involved with many disability advocacy groups: some of these people are angry, over-the-top in their indignation of everyone and every business that is not accessible.

    To me, disability "rights" and the "rights" of the business owner sometimes are in disagreement. And I firmly believe just because you have a disability does not automatically give you the "right" for accessibility everywhere, just like I don't have the "right" do demand a store widen its aisles just because something or some product blocks the aisle however temporary.

    Disability and ADA rights are sometimes taken advantage of. And there are plenty of suit-happypeople and lawyers who are more than ready to take advantave of any situation.

    So John: you have my sympathy in this. DOn't have an answer just sympathy with the situation
     
  48. Paul N

    Paul N In Corner

    LOL, and, he was carrying a 357 Magnum too!
     
  49. AnneL

    AnneL SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm only 5'2". Maybe I should start sueing stores because I can't always reach things on the top shelves.
     
  50. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God

    Or...

    You could sue the city for building the sidewalk too close to your arse.
     
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