According to a story recently aired by Channel 8 News, Mr. Pinnock has filed a lawsuit against Reed's Hobby Shop and 5 neighboring businesses. Rather than notifying a business of any alleged noncompliance with the ADA, Mr. Pinnock adopts the "shoot first, ask questions latter" approach to litigation. Instead of allowing a business owner to make modifications, he files a lawsuit and demands money before providing a specific list of repairs. Mr. Pinnock's lawsuits are often filled with vague, boilerplate language that provides no specific guidance to a business owner regarding the alleged ADA violations.
While the Americans with Disabilities Act has been around since 1990, there is no government agency really set up to enforce the law or to educate the public regarding ADA requirements. This leaves a vacuum that allows inventive lawyers to sue businesses that are not in full compliance. There is a common misperception that older buildings and businesses are protected by a "grand father" clause, but this is simply not the case. Attorneys like Mr. Pinnock use this misconception as a method to exploit small businesses owners by demanding thousands of dollars in unnecessary legal fees.
No reasonable person would be intentionally noncompliant with the ADA. In fact, being ADA-compliant increases the potential customer base for a business. 99% of business owners would gladly correctly any ADA violations. Because of this, it is my belief that Congress should amend the law to allow a business cited for ADA violations a respite of 90 days to correct problems and avoid lawsuits. This change in the law would encourage voluntarily compliance with the ADA while preventing unnecessary litigation that is financially devastating to small business owners.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.