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Today, we got sued!

Maryann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Not intending to ask for legal advice on the Grumble, but I will anyway ;)

If your restrooms are not public, must they be ADA accessible?

We have a ramp into the store (it used to be a Pennsylvania Liquor Store) so it's wheelchair accessible but our restroom is not in the shop area and not for customers. I wonder how we would fair in one of these lawsuits.
 

Jerry Ervin

PFG, Picture Framing God
Originally posted by Ron Eggers:


And don't think, "It can't happen here."
America, what a country!

We give criminals more rights than victims and make it possible for someone to use the same legal system to railroad small business people.

Is our system broken? Probably not, but flawed none the less.
 

Bill Henry-

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I’m really feeling bad for you, John. No matter what happens it’s going to cost you. Please keep us posted. This could potentially effect us all.

I don’t think twice about letting people (even non-customers) use our lavatory, but I am going to have to reconsider this “act of compassion” just in case a walk in is a front for some lawyer trying to check out my toilet.

Where does this silliness end? Are we going to be forced to put braille on our mat board samples so blind people can choose between Crescent Desert Sand and Sandstone? Heck, even I cannot tell the difference.

Or, maybe, forced to hire someone who is conversant with American Sign Language?
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
I took the day off yesterday, tried to have some fun. I have to get ready for work, so the first page is as far as I got reading. I like the idea about confronting city hall.

I don't have a clue what is actually needed to comply, that is why my law firm is sending out their "expert" to get us in compliance.

The lawyer is a crook, no two ways about it. On the ethics ladder, he is about twenty rungs below that sharp "lawyer" who hands his business cards out in front of the emergency room.

I went to bed that night thinking all kinds of bad thoughts of the things I would like to do to the SOB, however, I'm old, I'd just end up pulling something.

Years ago I did know a few folks in organized crime, that was a long time ago. Even if it wasn't, I could never go that rout, just wouldn't want it on my conscience, great to think about though.

According to my lawyer, the sleezball who is doing this is an expert, I can not win this one, no matter what I do, I am going to have to pay something.

John
 

Rozmataz

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I am so outraged at this whole scheme. I still cannot believe that there is not a citation process rather than a full fledged lawsuit that covers compliance or non-compliance with this type of issue.

Good luck John.

Roz
 

Paul N

In Corner
You know John, you may have to pay this.

But that lawyer could end up having his expensive car scratched on a weekly basis, broken muffler, a hole in the windshield, 3 flat tires, a pint of transmission fluid all over the car (does nasty number on the paint job, I hear...) you never know what happens these days....
 

Vertigo

Grumbler
Yikes!!! Maybe I will reconsider opening a frame shop/gallery and stick to the Internet! Met a lawyer like him when I was in the Marines in L.A.
20 years ago. Almost decked him! Still wished I did.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
John-I can't begin to tell you how much I feel your pain

Don't know if this is any consolation, but if were in your shoes, I would spend the $10,000 to make my store "In Compliance" before I would give this pond scum a friggin' dime

f you spend the money, at least you might be "insulating" yourself from another predator

We just went through a major remodel and had certain exemptions due to the fact that we were "grandfathered" because we had been here for 22 years

And, Mecianne, if your front door is open to the "public" so is your bathroom. It's a tough situation, but the law is the law
 

ERIC

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Here is a link to a Grumble for builders that deals with ADA stuff.

There are many consultants out there. Maybe they can coach you all.

If your restrooms are not public, must they be ADA accessible?
Not always. As I understand it, (as per my building inspector) an 'employees only' sign takes care of the not public part. Just don't hire more than a certain number of employees because then you have do it to meet the labor law/OSHA requirements.

if your front door is open to the "public" so is your bathroom. . . but the law is the law
Thats new to me. What is that based on? In NYS the Dept of Health has the say in this and they have just two requirements: sit down eating; any space with maximum occupants of 150(?) or more.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Eric-Perhaps you are correct in NY. We just went through a remodel and all I can tell you is that in AZ there is no debate

Perhaps John should follow your advice and simply put up an "Employee Only" sign on his restroom.

Like most of us, we probably don't really know what is or isn't acceptable and perhaps I should have said "in our understanding, if you are open to the public..."

But, we willing let customers use our bathroom

I guess the only sure way to find out is to get a permit for your remodel project and see what flys. I'm suspecting that most "remodels" are done slighly under the radar screen

But, I sure wouldn't build a legal defense plan (or a business plan or a....) on something read here
 

FramingFool

In Corner
Not to say this is of any help, but in this area, the local TV station has an expose segment of their local news that airs scams like this ... no public in their right mind would be anything less than outrageously indignant about this fiasco ... it can't hurt.
 

ERIC

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Originally posted by Bob Carter:
Perhaps John should follow your advice and simply put up an "Employee Only" sign on his restroom.
I apologize if I somehow gave the wrong impression. I would never suggest that John should do that in response to his situation. That surely wouldn't work. This is much more serious. Nor do I think that if he had done that already, he could have avoided the undue harrassment from this attorney.

This person seems determined to twist words and situations to benefit themselves and be oppressive to others.
 

osgood

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Wow, what a fabulous legal systems you guys have up there! wink: wink:
We have some weird laws down here too, but I don't think we have many that make extortion legal!
I don't think I'll bother emigrating after all.
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
San Diego has a radio talk show that is hosted by a former San Diego mayor, Roger Hedgecock. The lawyer in question was one of the featured subjects. Framer Randy, yes, it is the same lowlife that has gone after Julian and Alpine. He only goes after folks who he feels can not mount a proper defense.

I have sent his lawsuit to The State Bar Association, The San Diego District Attorney's fraud unit. I also called the San Diego Union newspaper, they have not returned my call, as of yet.

This is a tough one, he has the law, passed by congress on his side.

Roger headgecock has had him investigated, he said on his show that there is absolutely no evidence that he has ever given a dime of his money to anyone, other than himself. He claims to be suing on behalf of Minorities with handicaps, Women with handicaps, his seventy one year old wheelchair bound, blind, van driver, and several other organizations for the handicapped. Non of these organizations has ever received a nickle from him. Hedgecock said he is only in it for the money, nothing else.

The last person on this earth who would consider helping a blind person across the street is this guy. I think he would sue the blind person for making him stop his car so she could cross the street, you know, waste his time.

He sent a ringer into every one of our stores asking if she could use the bathroom. She was doing everything but holding her crotch when she came to my store. Anyone who let her use the bathroom must have full compliance bathrooms. We were all talking about her today, same woman, twenty something, hit every place on the block in a half hour or so on the same day. That's nine trips to the bathroom in half an hour. I think she needs a doctor, or a real job.

I'll keep everyone posted.

John
 
P

pcascio

Guest
I don't get to post here very often, because I just don't have much time, but this topic really got my blood boiling.

Learning to represent yourself (Pro Se) is one of the most valuable skills you can develop, and with the internet as your law school, it's amazing what you can learn.

A few years ago I received what looked like a lawsuit in the mail from a lawyer in Phoenix, who claimed his client, a Trust in Wasington D.C., owned the rights to "Yellow Pages" and further claiming that my wesbite, yellowpages.biz was infringing and to turn it over.

Unfortunately, this jerk picked the wrong person to try to scam.

I knew that "Yellow Pages," and actually, the walking fingers logo too, is in the public domain. (That's why you get scam invoices from fake YP publishers who use the logo to make it look official.)

Apparently, he also doesn't subscribe to PFM, or he might have known that I had written articles about Yellow Pages advertising for my Guerrilla Framer column in PFM. Sometimes, scammers can be a victim too - of bad luck.

I wrote back, stating that I was aware that his action was vexatious, that I was going to file a grievence with the AZ bar, and also a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ).

To make a long story short, he ended up buying my URL for $4000.

It's not often that the defendant walks away with the money, but being informed and educating yourself about how the legal system works can save you lots of money and grief.

I help so many people with divorce stuff all the time. I do it simply because I hate to see someone get screwed. (I can't charge a fee or I'd be practicing law.) As good as our system of jurisprudence is, the Family Courts are in need of serious improvement.

BTW, I also do a pretty good Mike Boguslawski impersonation (He's a bellacose TV Consumer Reporter in L.A.; formerly Hartford.) over the phone.

I use to call merchants for friends who had a gripe. Using my Bogie voice, I would threaten to put them on TV. "I'm Mike Boguslawski, and I'm in your corner."

Back to your situation - Has he actually filed a lawsuit? Were you served with a Complaint?

If all you got was a threatening letter, or something that looks like a lawsuit but was never filed, (Call the court to find out.) respond to it (Certified Mail) and be sure to put the sender on notice that you consider his actions vexatious(with intent to vex or harrass).

If he filed a suit (Complaint), which I doubt, you need to answer the Complaint. You most likely have thirty days, which is why I don't think he actually filed an action. It's not wise for a scammer to alert the court to his game.

For your education, it helps to find a lawyer who will serve simply as a consultant - an hour here, an hour there. He/she answers questions, ffers advice and generally serves as coach to counsel you, not represent you.

Also, go online and Google the Superior Court in your State and download a copy of the Practice Book. It's the cookbook of your state court system.

You also need a law dictionary. Findlaw.com and Wikipedia.com are very helpful. Learning the vocabulary is half the battle.

In your Answer, simply state that you contest the claims. Also fill out a form, and pay a fee, to request a jury trial. Ask your consulting lawyer how to do this and ask him for a sample Answer.

Also, Google the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are some expemptions for small businesses that could prove helpful.

Is the guy suing you based in Arizona by any chance?

Feel welcome to call me if you need more help.

Paul Cascio
The American Picture Framing Academy
www.pictureframingschool.com
860.940.9262

[ 04-13-2006, 08:50 AM: Message edited by: pcascio ]
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
Paul, thank you for some great advise. The Attorney in question is based in San Diego and licensed in California. No, he has not officially filed against us yet, according to my attorney, he will. First thing all of us are going to do is get compliant 100%, the rest, we are still thinking about. The more I do think about it, the better a court battle seems.

John
 

Rozmataz

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Paul C -

Wow. What a wealth of information.

And I thought you only taught framing. This could be a new course for you and if in any way helps John immediately, all the better!!


Roz

Class of 2001!
 
P

pcascio

Guest
Thanks Roz,

But you ain't seen nothing yet. I've something in the plans (been working on it for over a year) that is going to have a major impact on our industry.

Paul Cascio
www.pictureframingschool.com
 

UzZx32QU

Administrator
Staff member
Boy! Does that take the fun out of life. I wonder if his office is 100% fixed. On second thought maybe the lawyer should be fixed.

framer
 

FramingFool

In Corner
An attorney friend of mine suggested that if you comply with whatever they're objecting to, the suit goes away .... without reading the wealth (!) of info that preceded this posting, ... is this a feasible solution?
 

Val

PFG, Picture Framing God
OH Paul, you Teaser, you!
We're on pins and needles waiting to hear...a hint???

Sorry I couldn't talk with you today, looks like I might be here all night (I'm at the shop now). Early next week might be better, tomorrow will be the same. But thanks!
 

Mike LeCompte CPF

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
IN TN all areas of the retail establishment have to be ADA accessible. And we the tenants are responsible for making it so, not the landlord.
 

HannaFate

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Well, making your restroom not available to the public would be a solution.

I wonder if you could argue that galleries and frame shops should be expempt from the braille requirements, since the blind don't usually use your services?

At least the elderly, handicapped, blind, minority woman is not also a veteran...
 

UzZx32QU

Administrator
Staff member
In 35 years in the framing and fine art business I have never had a visually impaired client. I really don't think they are into the visual arts market.

framer
 

Maryann

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have had two visually impaired clients. One is totally blind and frames family pictures for others to enjoy. The other sees shadows, no colors. She has framed things for gifts. Neither drives. Both come in with companions who 'help' pick out colors.
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
Today we put up signs telling folks we have no public restrooms and signs directing people to our van accessible handicapped parking in the rear of our shop.

We are in the process of re-merchandising the front of our store so that every isle way has a 36" width. We have to build a special sales counter for the wheelchair bound customers. We have to find braille signs and electronic devices, whatever those are, to help the blind find their way around our store.

We will have to settle with these shysters, like it or not. The ADA act forbids any kind of retaliatory action against anyone complaining about the act, including lawyers. In other words, we can not counter sue, key his car or break his knees, as has been suggested.

The law is protecting these crooks completely. There is little we can do except get compliant and try to negotiate an affordable settlement.

John
 

DTWDSM

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Even if your restroom is not a "public" restroom, I would think that you would have to meet ADA requirements in case you would have an employee that would become disabled at any time.

Anyone who has remodeled or had a new build out should have made sure the restrooms were ADA compliant, it is the law and any architect should have made sure that you were.

This guy sounds like a crook, hope that you can spend the money on improvements instead of to him.
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
My attorney came out to my store today for the first time. She said I am in not as bad shape as most of the other businesses on the block. She told me I should be able to settle for under two thousand dollars.

She told me the attorney who filed the suit in the first place is in a wheelchair himself, he has a degenerative condition that is now starting to affect his speech, he is paraplegic or close to it. He has gained the respect of a lot of folks in the legal establishment because he started Law school while in a wheelchair when most folks would have just given up on life. He has made it his life crusade to get every shop and store he can to be ADA compliant. She told me nobody would stand a chance in a courtroom against this guy. After hearing his story, I reckon I'm a lot more tolerant toward his cause.

I am going to meet him at my store on Monday and reach a settlement then. He does not want to go to court, he just wants compliance and a fast settlement so that he can move on to new businesses. Apparently he is not as greedy as his cover letter would imply.

I'll keep you posted.

John
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey John-Make a mental dollar amount that you can live with. Total what expenses you will need to become compliant and do it

With the balance make a Cashier's Check to the charity combating his affliction

Thank him for bringing your shortcomings to attention and as gesture of good faith, you want to help others just like him; maybe even throw a few dollars extra in to show him that you are the decent sort of guy we all know

If he is truly simply attempting to get compliance and not feather his nest, send me his address. I'll mail a check to that charity in your name, too

Now, on the practical side: It's stuff that you probably should have done anyway, you expense out the improvements and get a deduction for the charitable donation
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
D amn I wish I had a mind like yours, thanks Bob.

John
 

jframe

<span style="color: red"><b><i>Charter Member</i><
Better yet, fly Bob over to meet with him!
 

Peter Ackerman

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
John,
I would take alond a louisville slugger. I would gladly take the assault charge for the satisfaction of bashing that piece of trash.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Peter-Make no mistake, part of me would love to do that, too.

But, every so often, it's best to do what is just right

My take? This guy will accept John's honest offer and the problem will disappear.

I would much rather spend the bucks "feeling" good than feeding
 

FramingFool

In Corner
If this guy were "Such a Sport", he would forgo the "settlement" and just make sure whatever corrections needed to be made would be made. Make no mistake, this turkey makes a living on others' misfortunes.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey FFool-You might be right. But suppose that his life has been hard becuase of his situation and he is bound and determined to make sure that others get Religion and make their stores compliant

And, this is the only leverage he has at his disposal?

Let's face it the law is on his side

And our first reaction is to get mad and feel we are being made to do what we don't want. It's a pretty normal reaction. Probably followed by the "offender", to ignore it.

But, suppose that the person that can't quite make it up over the curb is you. And the curb owner couldn't care less. And, the only remedy is the heavy club of the law

Wouldn't you use it? Maybe, maybe not

I have to be honest, if John's Counsel indicates that this is he easy way out, trust that Counsel

Now, let's all be honest: How many of us taken this lesson to heart and done a review to see if we, too, are compliant?

Knowing John, I'll bet that he wishes he had a similar wake up call prior. Could have saved thousands in dollars not to mention frustration. How many hours of "air" time could he buy for $1000. I know which seat he would rather be in: the "hot" seat or the left seat

John's experience, if cured, could save many of us a ton of money and aggravation

Somehow I left off the most important part of my prior message being that "I would rather spend the bucks "feeling" good than "feeding" rage
 

Bandsaw

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
A number of years ago I had a blind framing cutomer. He was about 40 - illness had caused his blindness at about age 30. He would come in with a person guiding him bringing a piece of art with him. He sometimes knew the art from his seeing years and other times I would verbally review the art with him. I would then describe my ideas for framing and he would discuss the color options with me. He would sometimes surprise me by telling me how big the mats should be and how much reveal. He seemed to be able to visualize the whole thing. He was always cheerful and said he enjoyed talking color with me. Unfortunately he since moved away.
 

Framerguy

PFG, Picture Framing God
I have purposely stayed away from this thread because it has dredged up old memories that I would just as soon not dwell on. But it may be time to talk about it so here goes.

When my older son was 4 years old he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer of the spine called Ewing's Sarcoma. He became paraplegic from the mid chest down and we had to push him around in a wheel chair each time he was allowed to leave the hospital during his 14 months of medical treatment.

It was a particularly nasty winter that year and we had alot of ice, snow, warm spells that would partially melt the snow and then cold weather that formed these solid ice ruts that were almost impossible to walk in let alone push a wheel chair through. We had a handicapped tag that we hung in our windshield so we could get close enough to a building to make the trip bearable. I had 4 occasions where somebody parked in the handicapped parking and very briskly walked from their car to the front of a store when I was parking down in the lot 50 yards away in these ruts that traffic had formed. It was so frustrating to have to wrestle that wheel chair through all that mess and then have somebody walk out of the store, cut in front of you at the entrance and then crawl into one of those "handicapped" autos parked right up there in the front line!! I have no idea how many other times this happened that we didn't notice someone with no apparent health problems parking in a HC zone. And I couldn't say anything because I didn't want to make my son feel any worse than he already did about his condition. I had always wished that there was something that I could do to help stop these inconsiderate lazy slobs from parking where they weren't supposed to park and making it very difficult for those for whom the special parking spaces were provided.

I guess my point is that this guy just may have an honest quest to get some of the problems that he faces every day solved, problems that we all take for granted but for a wheel chair bound person may be very hard to handle. Think about trying to hoist yourself onto a toilet from the seat of a wheel chair when nothing works south of your navel and you have to go so bad that you can almost taste it!! That must be a task when those hand rails are there for you to use, what must it be like when there are no assistance bars or anything else to help you get to the throne.

If that is the motive behind his threats I consider his methods quite barbaric and his goals, if they are genuine, most noble. I have felt that there may be more to the story than was evident to John when this came up. I feel that this lawyer could have picked about 6 other more constructive and compassionate ways to get his point across but we haven't spent much time in his shoes or his wheel chair to understand what is motivating him to become so radical.

I think that he may be manipulating the laws somewhat to his advantage but I'll bet that he would have gotten more positive reaction to his plight using other less drastic tactics than threatened law suits.

This is all assuming that everything that John had been told to date is bona fide and true. Or the guy could be a total sleezebag that is out to rape as many businesses as he can just to make a mark in the local disabled community.

Framerguy
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
Myself, until I found out the guys story, I was the one who wanted to put HIM in a wheelchair, not really, but the thought was there.

I have to go along with Bob and Framerguy on this one. Much as I don't like being busted in this manner, it's something that I can't blame the guy for doing.

My store is mostly compliant, but not completely. I have the ramp, the van accessible parking, my bathroom is almost 100% to ADA requirements. The only thing missing is the handles on the sink, mine are the kind you have to "turn" by twisting a knob, that's a no no, has to be lever operated.

My store lacks the proper signs and some of my isles are not 36" wide. All of this can be remedied without all that much work or expense.

My suggestion to all of you is get a hold of an ADA adviser and find out what you need.

Apparently there are a lot of lawyers jumping on this bandwagon. At least the lawyer who is suing me has a reason that goes beyond the dollar.

Then there is the other thing that we have all heard before: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

John
 

FramingFool

In Corner
A reasonable approach may have been along the lines of:

"Dear JRB: It has come to our attention that your store is in violation of certain provisions covered under the ADA. These violations are as follows: (blahblahblah). Please be advised that if these discrepancies are not corrected to our satisfaction by (pick a date), we will be forced to take legal action against you"


Is that so unrealistic an approach???
 

FramingFool

In Corner
My point is that this guy is not the altruistic object-of-compassion, interested in righting a wrong, as he is being portrayed ..... he's out to screw you out of $XXXX.XX and line his pockets in the process.

An ethical attorney would attempt to resolve an issue amicably before resorting to suit.
 

JRB

PFG, Picture Framing God
Framing Fool, think about this.

Your in a wheelchair, your body is twisted and damaged, your losing your ability to speak, and who knows what else is wrong, would you be completely sane and compassionate toward what you perceive as an insult to your existence?

I know in the perfect world what you are saying makes sense, however, the world ain't perfect, and it isn't fair either, it's just the way it is.

Who got screwed the worst in this life, me and my business or the lawyer who is suing me?

I'll get my store as compliant as I can, and then hope it is good enough. I also am thankful for having The Grumble, when you write, you think.

John
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
So if I'm a buff 36 year old lawyer that likes yachting and skiing at my Aspen condo for fun and specialize in frivolous lawsuits for a living living, then I'm the dirt of the Earth. But if my body has failed me, then I am a poor helpless little flower trying to make just the tinniest impression on the Earth before I pass.

The health of this man is to be considered for many things. But he has sued you and never entered your store. Don't 'church it up'! It's frivolous and the proof is in your willingness to comply. Compliance isn't what he is looking for. MONEY IS!

Tell Mr. Poke, of Poke, Gouge, and Screwem, to choke on the money. But do it nicely like Bob suggested.
 

Paul N

In Corner
The way I see it, and the last couple of posts also mentioned it:

This lawyer didn't say, Mr. John Baker, my disabled client cannot access your lovely store. So, PLEASE comply with ADA within X number of days, otherwise we will take legal action.

The sleazebag said, give me (an exact) amount of money (that will increase daily) by such and such date.

Some wanted to paint him as the gentle soul whose only interest is to make planet Earth accessible to the disabled. I don't buy it.
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hey Paul-I hear you and don't disagree on t eface of it

Having been sued and also a plantiff, believe me the opening salvos are brutal, nasty and over stated. From both sides

The truth comes out in the negotiations

I think Monday, we will all have a clearer understanding. Please remember that I sure do not think this guy will be invited over for drinks anytime soon

Let's just say I have a greater level of sympathy with what little I understand. That can swing wildly Monday afternoon

Bottom line: John has great exposure here and it appears that it might resolved at a lower cost.

Two things to be thankful for: John will probably spend much less and he will walk home after the event.

Imagine if it were the opposite

But, the nickel is still in the air
 
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