SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – District Attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles have filed a joint lawsuit against a law firm that has filed thousands of lawsuits against small businesses alleging that Americans violated the Disability Act (ADA).
The lawsuit was filed by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Los Angeles District Attorney Jorge Gascón.
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Authorities are evaluating more than 250 businesses in San Francisco, many of them in Chinatown, which have been affected by these ADA cases, which district attorney Chesa Boudin calls “fraud.” The DA office says Potter Handy LLP has collected millions and more than $ 10 million in settlements.
According to the complaint, Potter Handy is filing fraud cases regardless of whether there are real ADA violations in the business or whether compliance under the ADA is “immediately achievable”.
“After receiving reports last year that hundreds of small businesses were served with fraud cases under the ADA, our office launched a comprehensive investigation. Today we filed a civil lawsuit against the law firm that filed thousands of these illegal, boiler cases.” Boudin said in a prepared statement. “We hold those responsible for exploiting vulnerable business owners, hurting immigrant communities and violating the intentions of laws designed to improve access.”
After filing these fraud cases in federal court, Potter Handy is pressuring its targets to pay more than $ 10,000 — mostly from small businesses that are unable to hire lawyers to sue in federal court. Potter Handy’s business model is designed to shake up small businesses instead of ensuring ADA access to cash solutions; In fact, the serial files used by this law firm do not return to businesses to monitor compliance after contracts.
It also complains that the company was able to appeal to a federal court of law due to false allegations of ADA violations; Otherwise, under the Anrouh Act of California, cases subject to procedural limitations related to the boiler case would have to be filed in the Potter Handy State Court. Because the ATA does not allow claims for monetary damages, Potter accuses Handy Unrew of parallel violations under the law, which allows plaintiffs to sue for a minimum of $ 4,000 in damages for each ADA violation.
The California state legislature previously amended the Unro law to create barriers to filing such boiler claims in state court. The amendments include higher request requirements and a $ 1,000 filing fee, which only applies to plaintiffs who file ten or more Unruh laws a year – thus preventing the legislature from describing the practice of filing “boiler complaints against small businesses seeking speedy cash solutions”. Instead of correcting the accessibility violation. “(Cal. Section 425.55 (a) (2).) Of the Civil Procedure Code.
The DA offices said that the serial filers, represented by Potter Handy under the pseudonym “Center for Disability Access”, had gone into the business and personally encountered obstacles there and would like to return once those restrictions were removed. Boudin’s office, in its investigation, has uncovered a number of lawsuits filed by Potter Handy against businesses in connection with ADA violations, namely, Chinatown restaurants, which, due to Govt. -19 Infection.
Amanda Yen, who has been saving dollars after dollars for years as a recent immigrant, said it was a tough working day to finally capture Hans Won-tun House shortly before the outbreak.
“It was very difficult for small business owners,” said Amanda Yen, owner of Hon’s Wun-Tun House.
But last May, after an epidemic closure and take-out-only service, Yen slapped an ADA case, accusing his restaurant of not complying, including the sit-down counter.
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She felt helpless, cornered, and pressured to settle.
“I already paid $ 17,000,” Yen said.
Unable to pay in full, she pays monthly.
“We support ADA laws. We want to be compliant. We support communities with disabilities, but this is not the way to go, ”said Connie Chan, District Superintendent of San Francisco.
“These lawsuits have never been about disability rights or disability access. They have always been designed to shake up small businesses,” Boudin said.
After more than a year of investigative work, Boudin’s legal action has prompted the San Diego-based company to stop filing these lawsuits, pay civil fines and return all money received to immigrant businesses, including Amanda Yen.
“It’s unconscionable that it continues throughout the epidemic,” said San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin.
“Small, immigrant-owned businesses in my district and across San Francisco have been hit by fraudulent attempts to extort money from them,” Supervisor Peskin said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful to DA Boudin’s office for standing up for the victims and stopping the exploitation of immigrants.”
“We are deeply concerned that Potter Handy has sued small, monolingual business owners under false pretenses and created a business model by sacrificing,” said Khali Wong, managing director of the API Council. “We are pleased to stand by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for Victims, Immigrants, and Small Businesses for their courageous action to hold law abusers accountable.”
KPIX 5 approaches Potter Handy for a report.
Kenny Choi contributed to this report.
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