Posted Under: Important Issues for Fort Lauderdale,Neighborhood Issues,Social Issues
The scum among us…. My opinion
In our country, it used to be that if you had the initiative to build a company, offer an honest product or service and provided good customer service, you were able to make a decent living, even become well-off. That was the “American Dream” and was what enabled people to work optimistically toward a better life here.
Today, more often than not, it is how well connected you are, or how well you can cheat, take advantage of, steal & rob your way to a better life, and do it off the backs of others. We’ve seen too many examples of this nationally; the Madoff scandal & the Wall Street meltdown with investment firms &banks lying to investors are just two examples. Here in South Florida we’ve seen the Rothstein “Ponzi” scheme, the Stanford investment scandal, developers trying to get land rezoned for their own financial benefit, and numerous Broward County elected officials “on the take”.
And now in Fort Lauderdale we have this. A scumbag by the name of (my attorney asked me not to mention his/her name yet) is driving around Fort Lauderdale looking for businesses to sue under the “Americans with Disabilities Act”. A Federal law allows anyone (anyone who is classified as “disabled” that is) the right to sue a business if there is any (no matter how small) element of current ADA non-compliance.
The person doesn’t even have to go in to the business; if they see any violation from the street, they can sue and the business or property owner suddenly finds him or herself on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, having to pay both the plaintiff’s attorney and their own attorney. It’s nothing more than a scam, dreamed up by attorneys, for attorneys (in my opinion).
Currently this “person” has sued 26 businesses in the last 4 months (my business included), claiming “irreparable harm” by not having proper access (never mind that he or she may never have entered the business). I have had numerous people in wheel chairs come to my place of business to shop. No one has ever had a problem getting around. But the way the federal law is written, if your business or property is not up to ALL current ADA standards, or has even minor issues, you can still be sued. There is no warning or time given to correct any issues that are not up to current ADA standards; all you can do is to try to settle with the attorneys involved to minimize the legal fees.
It’s a cottage industry and the winners are the attorneys, both the plaintiffs’ and the defendants’ attorneys. The losers are the small business or property owners who have only two options: try to settle out of court for tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Or take it to court and end up having to pay 3-4 times that. And the way the law is written, the chance of being successful in court is very slim. It is simply legal extortion by the Federal Government and the attorneys who wrote the law.
So a small business like mine, along with an appliance store, a carpet store, a clothing store, a bank, bicycle shop, along with several doctors and dentists offices and at least ten other businesses here in Fort Lauderdale have all been sued by the same person, using the same attorney since April. Local judges are upset about these claims, but because of the way the law is written, they too have little flexibility.
We wonder why we are losing our competitive edge in the world. Here’s why. We are too busy trying to cheat and steal from each other…
For those of you who have small businesses here in Fort Lauderdale; be forewarned! Make sure your place of business meets ALL of the current ADA requirements.