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April 24, 2013
Jewish World Review
April 18, 2012/ 26 Nissan, 5772
Businesses with Disabilities Act
Another reason we need tort reform: lawsuit mania is sweeping the country, made possible by the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). When passed in 1990, the ADA was heralded by the left as the preeminent force for combating "discrimination" by private entities open to the public.
Soon after its passage, the ADA's regulatory edicts required that businesses spend millions refitting bathrooms, cutting curbs, installing expensive ramps, lowering water fountains, widening hallways, etc., to accommodate potential patrons with disabilities. This was a gold rush for the plaintiff's bar, which has exploited every last mandate of the ADA to its advantage.
You know it's bad when the New York Times begins to question the perverse incentivizing of ADA attorneys who rack up hundreds of thousands in legal fees (the plaintiffs themselves cannot get damages under the law, only injunctive relief):
The lawyers are generally not acting on existing complaints from people with disabilities. Instead, they identify local businesses, like bagel shops and delis that are not in compliance with the law, and then aggressively recruit plaintiffs from advocacy groups for people with disabilities…
Ben-Zion Bradley Weitz, a lawyer based in Florida, has a regular group of people with disabilities from whom he selects plaintiffs. One of them, Todd Kreisler, a man in a wheelchair who lives on the East Side of Manhattan, sued 19 businesses over 16 months — a Chinese restaurant, a liquor store and a sandwich shop among them.
The results of the suits were almost immediate: workers grabbed their hammers, installing new ramps, lowering counters and shelves and making businesses more accessible to people with disabilities. And as a product of the litigation, the businesses had to pay thousands of dollars in legal fees to Mr. Weitz and his associates.
Just in New York alone, Mr. Weitz has filed 200 cases, most in federal district court in Manhattan. Business in the U.S., the target of so much of Democrat demonization, are operating in a high-tax environment, the least we could do is to eliminate the high-litigation burdens on them.
The ADA may have been passed out of the best of intentions, but as with so many big government solutions, it has done little for the supposed “victims” of discrimination while lining the pockets of lawyers and lobbyists. It needs to be reconceived or scrapped altogether. It is not the role of the federal government to ensure that Pete’s Pizza has installed its toilet paper dispenser at the proper height.
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