Targeting ADA Violators
California Lawyer

Feinstein Wants to Stop "Drive-By" Lawsuits Against Businesses

April 30, 2012

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) asked state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that the state legislature do something to stop allegedly abusive lawsuits by a small group of plaintiffs lawyers against businesses for noncompliance with ADA regulations guaranteeing ease of access for the disabled, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Last year, a bill that would give business owners 120 days to fix violations from the time a demand letter was received was voted down. Senate GOP leader Bob Dutton is pushing for a similar bill, reducing the time allowed to 90 days.

Targeting ADA Violators

Critics call him a shakedown artist, but Tom Frankovich considers himself a private attorney general fighting for the rights of the disabled

January 2012

photo by S. Todd Rogers

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If you know anything at all about Thomas E. Frankovich, chances are you have a strong opinion about him. Make that a very strong opinion.

On behalf of his disabled clients, Frankovich specializes in suing businesses, mostly small ones, for failing to provide the access that's required under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (42 U.S.C. §§ 1210112300). By all appearances, the 65-year-old attorney has done exceedingly well. He owns one home in the tony Marin County town of Tiburon. Then there's the house and condo in Mazatlán, Mexico, and the century-old Victorian-style building in San Francisco's Cow Hollow that he sold in 2008 for $2.2 million. He also owns two ranches in Tehama County, where he keeps a herd of 140 bison.

For Tom Frankovich, life is good.

But as a part of that life, Frankovich has been called just about every name in the book - and a few names that some publishers won't print. Business owners have denounced Frankovich as a "shakedown artist" and an "extortionist." In 2004 a federal judge excoriated him for engaging in litigation practices "bordering on extortionate shysterism." And when a radio talk show recently had him on as a guest, enraged listeners phoned in to call him a "vampire," a "charlatan," and a "parasite."

Clearly, in his line of work you need to have a thick skin - not to mention a concealed weapons permit, which Frankovich obtained after receiving several death threats.

"I'm controversial," he allows. "I approach everything like Patton and Rommel would. I believe you go for the throat as soon as you know an early resolution isn't going to work. I have no fear about spending the last dime I have in litigation. You wanna fight, then be prepared for a trial, be prepared for an appeal, be prepared for me to go all the way. Every case to me is personal."

If Frankovich sounds more like a cowboy than an august member of the bar, that's just fine with him. His standard courtroom regalia: boots, jeans, a western shirt, and a white elk-skin coat, all topped by a mane of flowing gray hair.

He has a taste for Jim Beam and a love of military history. And his website prominently displays a sketch of himself commanding a tank. When Frankovich leaves phone messages, he often gives the time in military terms, as in "thirteen hundred hours" for 1 p.m. And when he tells you how much he admires Patton and Rommel, he admits that he likes Rommel more.

To many of his clients, he's a hero of sorts. "Thank God there are people like Tom Frankovich who will do these cases," says Marshall Loskot, a wheelchair user who lives near Red Bluff and has, since 1988, used Frankovich to file dozens of ADA lawsuits. "He's had a huge impact on access," Loskot adds. "He's part of the reason that about 75 percent of the world I travel in is accessible to me."

"One thing I'll say about Tom Frankovich, he's a formidable opponent," allows Jason G. Gong, a Walnut Creek attorney at the Livingston Law Firm who has faced off against him on several cases. "Some defense lawyers who might be relatively new to the area might find it easy to dismiss him. But that would be a mistake."

According to one estimate, at least 42 percent of the nation's ADA-related lawsuits are brought in California, making this state ground zero for access filings. It's not hard to understand why. In most states, ADA plaintiffs are entitled only to injunctive relief - that is, having an access issue remedied - plus attorneys fees. But in California, access violations also run afoul of the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act (Cal. Civ. Code § 51(f)) and the California Disabled Persons Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 52(a), 54(a)), which allow plaintiffs to tack state claims for money damages onto requests for injunctive relief in ADA lawsuits filed in federal court. And California law provides for treble damages, with a minimum of $4,000 per occurrence, plus attorneys fees.

That may not amount to much for a single case, but it can add up if you're filing dozens of cases every year. The statutory minimums per incident can also pile up if a particular plaintiff has been denied access on several occasions, since each instance is a separate violation under the statutes. (See Feezor v. Del Taco Inc., 431 F. Supp. 2d 1088 (S.D. Cal. 2005).) Still, only a very small group of practitioners - perhaps no more than 20 - generate the bulk of the filings. Frankovich himself usually files about 6 or 7 ADA suits per month, and has 50 cases going at a time.

To hear defense lawyers tell it, small, mom-and-pop-type businesses are particularly attractive targets for ADA suits, since they are most likely to settle quickly rather than mount a six-figure legal battle. David Warren Peters is CEO and general counsel of Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse, a San Diego law firm that represents defendants who have been sued for ADA access violations. "[A plaintiffs lawyer] can make 50 grand in an afternoon" with a lucky filing, he says. "It's unbelievably profitable."

There's no doubt that the Americans with Disabilities Act has made the world more accessible to millions of people with physical disabilities. But when the first President Bush signed this landmark law more than 20 years ago, it contained no provision for government enforcement of access rules. Instead, the act was to be policed largely through private causes of action. And while that's been a boon for the plaintiffs bar, it may not be the best or most efficient way to remove physical barriers.

"You have some defendants who blow their wad on litigation and then don't have money left to make changes," says Peters. At the same time, he adds, some plaintiffs make monetary settlements "that require almost nothing in the way of access, and it's wrapped in a very strict confidentiality provision. We've seen that done in hundreds of cases throughout the state."

Indeed, even the so-called frequent filers - disabled people who make significant amounts of money by filing multiple ADA claims with the help of lawyers like Frankovich - admit that getting defendants to make needed modifications remains a serious problem. "I know businesses that have been sued three and four times by different people because the owner didn't fix the problems," says Frankovich's client Marshall Loskot. "People will sign an agreement and pay you off and never do the fix. The [plaintiffs] lawyer just feels it's more cases for him, and I feel that's unethical." Loskot insists, however, that Frankovich doesn't operate that way.

But even if Frankovich is on the side of the angels, to many of the business owners he sues, he's the devil incarnate. This doesn't seem to bother Frankovich a bit. "When ADA litigation picks up in a neighborhood, people say, 'Oh my God, they're suing the mom and pops; there's a predator loose,' " he says with mock horror. "Everyone kind of forgets that mom and pop is the tenant, but the landlord has owned the million-dollar building since the ADA was passed in 1990 and has taken no measures to make it accessible." (In general, landlords and tenants are jointly responsible for compliance with access laws, but they are free to shift responsibility between them by contract.)

"The hammer of litigation is the only thing that gets small business to comply with the law," he adds. "Litigation becomes a necessity because businesses have a 'wait until I'm sued' attitude."

Of course, with lawyers like Tom Frankovich around, they usually don't have long to wait.

Like a lot of people these days, Gwen Sanderson holds down two jobs. One of them is running a small video and DVD store tucked away in San Francisco's Noe Valley. The other is dealing with an ADA complaint that Frankovich filed against her and her business partner six months ago on behalf of two disabled clients (Ramirez v. Video Wave of Noe Valley, No. 11-CV-278 (N.D. Cal. filed June 7, 2011)).

Sanderson has consulted multiple disability-access specialists, building inspectors, and small-business organizations and attended a Bar Association of San Francisco workshop in an effort to find out exactly what modifications she needs to make to bring her 400-square-foot store into compliance with the ADA and California's access laws. And though she's heard different things from different experts, she's nevertheless moved forward with several alterations, purchasing a portable ramp so wheelchair users can negotiate the two- to six-inch step at the store's entrance, installing a door buzzer along with signs instructing disabled customers to ring for assistance, and hiring a state-certified access specialist to inspect her shop. But these measures came too late to head off the lawsuit, which has left her feeling both victimized and resentful.

"It's been a big waste of my time and resources," she laments. "I've spent about $3,000 so far and we work at break-even; we don't have any money in the bank. I borrowed money to retain my lawyer."

Still, Sanderson has so far resisted any temptation to settle. "I really have a problem with settling," she says. "What about my civil rights? What about the distress I've been put through, and the time and money I've spent?"

Sanderson is one of several shop owners in the neighborhood who have been hit with suits filed by Frankovich over the past year, and nearly a dozen more have received letters warning them of access violations. Meanwhile, across town, he is suing more than a dozen small restaurants on behalf of a disabled client named Craig Yates, a frequent filer who since 2007 has been a plaintiff in 140 ADA suits. Indeed, such filings have become so prevalent in San Francisco that last fall the president of the city's Board of Supervisors, David Chiu, sought to fast-track the construction permits needed to bring businesses into compliance with the law. His plan also would allow small restaurants to exclude from the calculation of maximum allowable square footage any space used for disability access, and require landlords to bring ground-floor entrances into compliance before renting their buildings to new tenants.

Under the ADA, businesses have a continuing obligation to identify and remove architectural barriers that prevent people with disabilities from enjoying the same goods and services that able-bodied people enjoy. There is one notable exception: Building owners don't have to make alterations that aren't "readily achievable" - a standard that in the face of so many rules hardly provides crystal clear guidance.

In fact, the law contains literally thousands of rules - everything from the minimum width that must be left clear for wheelchair passage (32 inches at a point and 36 inches continuously) to exactly where toilet paper dispensers are to be installed in the bathroom (mounted on the side wall nearest the commode, a minimum of 19 inches above the floor). All of this makes compliance a challenge - even for those with the best of intentions.

"I rarely if ever see instances where there isn't an access violation somewhere," says Kim Blackseth, a Napa-based state-certified access specialist who has consulted businesses on ADA compliance for more than 21 years and is himself a quadriplegic. "I can find something wrong anywhere."

But don't talk to Frankovich about how difficult it is to comply. He points to a 2004 report by the San Francisco Collaborative, a coalition of businesses and disability-rights activists, that found that most business owners did not take advantage of a program to help them bring their facilities into compliance, and that they took action only when the threat of litigation or fines forced them to. "When they say it's a technical violation, that's nonsense," he says. "It means you didn't meet the minimum standards."

Such is the hard line Frankovich takes when it comes time to negotiate.

"It's not like other negotiations," says San Francisco attorney Ragunath K. Dindial, who has represented several clients sued by Frankovich. "He'll tell you, 'the more time I spend on this, the more attorneys fees I incur.'"

Frankovich may keep a steady bead on small-business owners, but not all ADA plaintiffs lawyers make their money that way. Attorney Lynn Hubbard III of Chico, for one, prefers to go after big companies and chain stores. "You don't want to sue a mom and pop," he argues, "because when you've got people working 80 hours a week trying to make a living, they don't have money to make the changes. You're better off just telling them, 'Hey, would you try to change this before somebody sues you?' If they're not nice, they might get sued, but I try not to."

Hubbard isn't nearly so restrained with larger enterprises, though. At any given time he'll have as many as 250 ADA suits in various stages of development. On business trips last year he spent 173 nights in hotels, and at age 71 he still puts in 80-hour work weeks. Over the course of six particularly prolific days last July, he filed 20 ADA suits against chains ranging from Cost Plus and Safeway to Wendy's and Bed Bath & Beyond, all but one of them on behalf of a single client.

And though his critics say he's a handmaiden for serial plaintiffs, Hubbard says they have it backwards.

"How about the McDonald's or Sears or Targets that you see so many ADA suits against?" he asks. "Are we going to call them serial defendants? You'd think after 20 years they would have gotten it right. Some of them haven't made any changes at all."

A case in point, says Hubbard, is Pier 1 Imports. Back in 2006, the chain lodged a vexatious litigant motion against one of his clients who'd lent his name to 85 ADA-related suits. But U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton embraced Hubbard's logic and denied the motion. "From all that appears," he wrote, "the number of lawsuits plaintiff has filed does not reflect that he is a vexatious litigant; rather, it appears to reflect the failure of the defendants to comply with the law." (Wilson v. Pier 1 Imports (U.S.) Inc., 411 F. Supp. 2d 1196, 1200 (E.D. Cal. 2006).) Karlton also rejected the defense contention that Hubbard was inappropriately relying on "boilerplate" complaints. "It is unclear to this court," he wrote, "why uniform instances of misconduct do not justify uniform pleadings." (Wilson, 411 F. Supp. 2d at 1201.)

In the Sacramento area, another plaintiffs attorney who makes a living off these cases is Scott N. Johnson. But Johnson is disabled himself, and he routinely drives around town in his hand-controlled van, filing complaints on his own behalf when he encounters access issues.

Johnson did not return repeated calls for comment. But Sacramento defense attorney Robert Lorbeer is more than willing to talk about the lawyer he's opposed in at least 100 cases. "With Scott," he says, "the m.o. is exactly the same: He drives by a business or uses Google [Street View] and claims to the court that he's been there and sues because he's been injured or embarrassed. And it's always the same thing, that there's no van-accessible parking. Oftentimes, the business will have handicapped parking but not van-accessible handicapped parking. It's literally a drive-by lawsuit."

Lorbeer and others say that because Johnson represents himself in court, he rarely asks for attorneys fees, and often he settles cases for $3,000 to $5,000, which is on the low side for ADA actions. But he files hundreds of these suits every year - in just one 15-day period last July, he lodged 51 such complaints against defendants that ranged from a liquor store to a welding supply company.

"All it is, is a tax on small business," says Lorbeer. "It's crazy, absolutely crazy. And some of them have to go out of business" because of the expense.

Defense attorney David Peters, in San Diego, also has war stories to tell. In fact his firm, Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse, has consulted in more than 850 ADA cases across the country, and Peters helped compile a database of more than 14,000 ADA-access lawsuits in California that lists more than 100 frequent plaintiffs and their lawyers. He's also produced a thick information packet for new and prospective clients that's full of specific steps businesses can take to avoid an ADA lawsuit or mitigate damages once one has been filed. The materials stress that businesses need to comply with all ADA requirements, but they point out that one of the easiest ways to prevent a lawsuit is to make sure the parking area is compliant. One page advises: "If a 'scout' drives by your parking area and sees that it is highly compliant with access standards, they may think that you have already been sued and modified the area as a result."

"I do understand the frustration of many people in the disabled community over access," Peters says. "The fact is, there's a lot of noncompliance [with the ADA]. But let's put the blame where it belongs, which is on the way the law is structured and on the way legislators have failed to consider appropriate reforms. If we're creating a system that depends on private enforcement, then we need to have safeguards that prevent inappropriate conduct."

A few years back, a Bakersfield attorney named Craig N. Beardsley who was looking into Frankovich's practice gained access to hundreds of settlement documents. Beardsley found that in an average $20,000 settlement, Frankovich's clients would walk away with about $4,000 while he pocketed just about all the rest.

"Do I do well?" Frankovich asks. "Yes," he says, he does. "My clients want a fair fight. My rate is $500 an hour, and I'm probably worth $750. Everybody's getting a deal at $500. You think the disabled community wants to hire a lawyer who operates out of a thrift store? No. They want someone out of Neiman Marcus. I'm good at what I do, and I want to be paid for being good. If you want to go to the party, you better be ready to bring the party favors."

Frankovich was born in Detroit, and his family moved to Southern California when he was three. He received his undergraduate degree from California State University, Northridge, and worked for Xerox and IBM for a couple of years before deciding that he wasn't cut out for corporate life. He attended night classes at Southwestern University School of Law and was admitted to the California bar in 1977. He spent a few years practicing at a defense firm in Los Angeles until one day a partner told him that he had "a plaintiff's attitude." Frankovich took the comment to heart.

For the next ten years, he practiced personal injury law from an office in Century City, which he says was more lucrative than the work he does now. After moving to the Bay Area in the 1990s, he brought a number of cases involving the mishandling of cremated remains, and at one point he even took the trouble to become certified as a cremationist. Gradually, though, ADA cases started coming through the door, and by 1998 he was doing them full time.

Frankovich, who is divorced and has been living with his significant other for the past 13 years, talks about going into "semiretirement" soon. He waxes fondly about his bison herd, mending fences, and driving around in a dented 1983 ranch truck. "My idea of privacy," he says, "is when you can stand on your porch and take a piss, drink a beer, and shoot a gun all at the same time and no one says boo."

Frankovich has handled thousands of ADA matters over the years, but the biggest fight of his life came in 2008 when he had to defend himself before the State Bar Court of California. Frankovich faced accusations of scheming to extort settlements, seeking to mislead a judge, and making unethical settlement demands. The memory of those charges still stings, and with no prompting he produces a sheath of documents that lay out the matter in minute detail.

The State Bar complaint stemmed from a case Frankovich filed in 2004 on behalf of a disabled client named Jarek Molski (Molski v. Mandarin Touch Restaurant, 347 F. Supp. 2d 860 (C.D. Cal. 2004)). It was one of at least 223 ADA lawsuits Frankovich filed in federal courts that year, 156 of which were on Molski's behalf. Molski had become somewhat infamous by then for having signed on to hundreds of ADA complaints throughout the Central and Southern districts of California. (In one year alone, he later testified, he recovered an astonishing $800,000 from the resulting settlements.)

After the Mandarin Touch case was filed, though, the owner of the Solvang restaurant sought to clip Molski's frequent-filer wings by having him declared a vexatious litigant. And in December 2004 U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie did just that, using the words "bordering on extortionate shysterism" to describe Frankovich's role in the offending conduct (Molski v. Mandarin Touch Restaurant, 359 F. Supp. 2d 924, 937 (C.D. Cal. 2005)).

Frankovich appealed Rafeedie's finding, but in August 2007 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed that Molski was indeed a vexatious litigant (Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp., 500 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2007)). Frankovich sought a rehearing, which was denied, although in a sharply worded dissent Chief Judge Alex Kozinski observed that Molski had been judged a liar and a thief without evidence, witnesses, cross-examination, or any of the other rudiments of due process (Molski, 521 F.3d 1215, 12201222 (9th Cir.), cert denied, 129 S. Ct. 594 (2008)).

Within six months the State Bar weighed in, filing two notices of disciplinary charges against Frankovich. With his law license on the line, Frankovich elected to represent himself, and ended up spending five and a half days pleading his case before the State Bar Court. Apparently, he did a pretty good job.

On June 25, 2009, the panel ruled that Judge Rafeedie's findings were based "more on assumption and innuendo than testimonial and documentary evidence." It also ruled that State Bar prosecutors had failed to make the case that Frankovich had engaged in any scheme to extort, had sought to mislead a judge, or had committed acts of moral turpitude in his settlement demands. In fact, the Bar Court found Frankovich guilty of only one unrelated violation: improperly communicating with a representative party in a foreign jurisdiction. This, says Frankovich, consisted of a single phone call that lasted only two minutes.

"Everyone talks about Mandarin," he grouses. "No one wants to talk about the fact that I ... whipped the State Bar in pro per. Everyone glosses over that. They say, 'What about Judge Rafeedie?' Well fuck Judge Rafeedie."

Rafeedie died in 2008.

For all of the talk about shakedowns, a less stringent law than the Americans with Disabilities Act probably would not have compelled millions of businesses to make their buildings more accessible to disabled patrons. But is the law also hurting some of the very people it's supposed to help?

Access specialist Kim Blackseth is among those who voice this concern. He says motel owners have told him that when someone calls asking for a wheelchair-accessible room, they always say it's occupied, figuring that the money they'd make on the room isn't worth the risk of putting up someone who might sue. And when Blackseth himself rolls into a business in his wheelchair, he too occasionally registers a distinctly negative vibe.

"Sometimes," he says, "you go into a restaurant and you can just feel the tension where the owner is thinking, Is he one of those guys? I've got enough stuff going on, I don't need that. But in some ways, I understand their position. The lawsuits are driving a wedge between the business community and the disabled community, and that's not what anyone wants."

Nevertheless, Blackseth doesn't want anyone to water down the law. "It's a two-edged sword," he says. "I don't like what some of the ADA lawyers do. In many ways, it's obnoxious and poor public policy. But there's no question that a lot of access does happen as a result of these lawsuits. It's absolutely clear that we have access we wouldn't have had otherwise, without someone's wallet being challenged with damages."

Over the years a number of ideas for reforming ADA have been floated. But opposition from both disability-rights groups and the plaintiffs bar has prevented them from getting very far. One proposal involves abandoning the vague "readily achievable" standard to give business owners a clearer sense of what changes they need to make to avoid litigation.

Another idea - which the California Legislature has rejected 13 times now - would provide businesses with a grace period to make any necessary alterations before they can be sued for access violations. (Last session, state Senator Bob Dutton (R-Riverside) proposed such a bill (SB 783), which would have given businesses 120 days to fix alleged deficiencies before a lawsuit could proceed. It died in committee.) Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from San Diego, has introduced in Congress a 90-day version of similar legislation - his fourth attempt since 2000 to establish a grace period after notification.

In his work, Tom Frankovich likes to think of himself as a private attorney general. But there is at least one curious irony about his practice: Up until 2008, Franko-vich kept his office in a turn-of-the-century home that had nearly 20 steps leading from the sidewalk to the front door and no elevator to the second or third floors, making it entirely inaccessible by wheelchair.

Frankovich says he looked into building a ramp to the front door, but the landing wasn't big enough, and an elevator, he says, would have been extremely expensive to install and therefore not "readily achievable" under the law. This meant that Frankovich often had to meet his disabled clients either at their homes or at another, more accessible location.

In 2008, Frankovich sold the Victorian and moved into an office in San Rafael that he says is fully ADA compliant. "I'd have to be pretty stupid to have an inaccessible office," he observes. "I'm not going to make that mistake."

And yet, when it comes to satisfying chapter and verse of the disability-access requirements, even Frankovich may have overlooked a few details. For one thing, as of three months ago there was no demarcated, wheelchair-accessible path of travel from the public sidewalk to the front door of the building complex where his current office is, as mandated by ADA Accessibility Guidelines (see 36 C.F.R., Part 36, App. A, § 4.3.2(1)). That means someone in a wheelchair would have to cross a lane of car traffic (the driveway) to reach the door. Also, one of the disabled parking spaces closest to his office marked "Van Accessible" had the diagonally striped access aisle painted on the driver's side, rather than on the passenger side as required by the California Building Code. The sign marking the other space was almost completely obscured by tree foliage. Moreover, both parking spaces lacked the "$250 Minimum Fine" warning signs mandated by California's Vehicle Code and Building Code. (See Cal. Veh. Code § 225511.8; Cal. Building Code, Cal. Code Regs. tit. 24, § 1129 B.4.)  And the tow-away sign failed to include, as required, the address where towed vehicles might be reclaimed, and incorrectly referred to "disabled persons" instead of "persons with disabilities."

"I know they sound like technicalities," says Peters of Lawyers Against Lawsuit Abuse. "But if my clients had any of those issues, they'd be sued in a heartbeat."

Tom McNichol is a San Francisco based freelance writer.

Reader Comments

Kathy Jean - January 12, 2012
I'd like to see if he can get my landlord to provide handicapp access for this old historic landmark building. This is a 100 yr old beautiful commercial building...with historical landmark status. Is there anyway to get her to allow tenants to have a chairlift up this second floor old building? It does not have elevator and is 2 stories tall. I've asked her twice and even offer to pay for it, but she says, "she'll think about it"'s been over a year.
Jessie - January 13, 2012
If they don't want to end up in court, they should follow the law in the first place. For $50 you can get a consultation here in Chico and ensure your business is in compliance. It just comes down to this, most businesses don't give a crap about their disabled customers and there is no one to report a business who is out of complaince. The only remaining solution, if they don't fix the problem when you ask them to, is to sue. I'd say, create a state agency who enforces these regulations with fines. Revnues from these fines can benefit the disabled by helping low-income disabled people improve access to their homes, get retrained or hire care-takers. I'm a disabled veteran myself and I often find myself unable to access a building, get a table I can reach from my wheelchair or use the restroom in a facility. Its truly unfair.
DensityDuck - February 23, 2012
Jessie, the article provides the example of a business owner who has attempted to find someone who can advise her how to bring the building into compliance; multiple reviewers have given her completely different answers. Kathy Jean, if it's a historical building then the local codes may prevent the landlord from doing anything. San Francisco's North Beach is in a bind because none of the buildings have wheelchair ramps, but local regulations prevent them from building a ramp that's ADA-compliant.
WilliamM - April 26, 2012
These stories are just ridiculous. There's no hiding behind the matter that these serial litigious handicapped people are targeting small businesses and killing California economy. Here's a SIMPLE and SMART solution. Give a warning in writing and allow the business 90 days to bring their facility up to compliance. IF they refuse, then by all means they're liable and sue them. How is demanding 10s of thousands of dollars for not being 100% to the letter on ADA guidelines on buildings 50 years old?! This is why America is fading, they can't even protect their own businesses in a fair manner. As a business owner, how is it reasonable to require them to ALWAYS know the most current ADA compliance guidelines that are ALWAYS changing? Even the city gives the establishment a warning and time to fix things before shutting them down. Absolutely ridiculous. Look around your cities at the dying businesses and better hope the law wakes up before it turns into a desert. Give a warning then litigate. IF they fix the regulations, drop the case. The state is allowing renegades to take money out of the pockets of hard working people and line the pockets of scumbag lawyers and themselves. Funniest part is that they're extorting right from the pockets of California herself since those settlements are non-taxed. LMAO
WilliamM - April 26, 2012
These stories are just ridiculous. There's no hiding behind the matter that these serial litigious handicapped people are targeting small businesses and killing California economy. Here's a SIMPLE and SMART solution. Give a warning in writing and allow the business 90 days to bring their facility up to compliance. IF they refuse, then by all means they're liable and sue them. How is demanding 10s of thousands of dollars for not being 100% to the letter on ADA guidelines on buildings 50 years old?! This is why America is fading, they can't even protect their own businesses in a fair manner. As a business owner, how is it reasonable to require them to ALWAYS know the most current ADA compliance guidelines that are ALWAYS changing? Even the city gives the establishment a warning and time to fix things before shutting them down. Absolutely ridiculous. Look around your cities at the dying businesses and better hope the law wakes up before it turns into a desert. Give a warning then litigate. IF they fix the regulations, drop the case. The state is allowing renegades to take money out of the pockets of hard working people and line the pockets of scumbag lawyers and themselves. Funniest part is that they're extorting right from the pockets of California herself since those settlements are non-taxed. LMAO
ARLENE TALACTAC - June 22, 2012
Who do I speak to or call about reporting my association building about refusing to put a ramp for a couple of our residents who has to climb up and down the more than 4 flights of stairs with the type of walker that has those wheels. I'm afraid she will fall trying to get up and down and break a hip or worse. Pleas help.
Joanne Wilkins - July 30, 2012
I know that this scares me, but is true. I own a couple of businesses and I was sued. You need to know what is going on with your business. But has time to read all the codes or ADA. I do not but i am just trying to make a living. I tried to have the owner pay but they said, so we went to court, and it is both of our responsibly. I did not know where to go, I found a Architecture Firm. They are very experienced. In stead of fighting everything in court, we are working on upgrading my businesses and that way my money stays here and not in someone else hands or in court. At least the customers like it. I would suggest them JW
Laurie - October 15, 2012
I am a wheelchair user. I blame Pres. Bush, and the current administration, for this mess. Those of us with disabilities are stuck between a rock and hard place, here. Do we want small businesses to go down? No. Should small businesses factor the cost of being compliant into their business plans? Yes. Some say, "give them 90 days to comply". They've had 22 *years* to comply. At the same time, yes, the ADA rules are complicated, and there is no gov. department going around and helping people understand it. Why do building inspections not include access issues; as in, you aren't compliant, you don't open? This is the price we pay as a society for doing a half-ass job when it comes to accessibility: we -- business owners and the disabled -- are fighting with each other and becoming enemies, all because the government never gave the ADA the proper teeth. You can probably thank big business for that; I'm sure that their lobbying efforts got the law watered down enough to where they could get away with noncompliance. And now small businesses, and people like me, are the ones paying for it.
Jody McNeal - November 12, 2012
Im having a hard time getting a well known grocery store to stop blocking the exits which is hard if your not handicaped but is impossible for a handicaped person to exit quickly in an emergency. I was told by store managemnet it loss prevention, i think its very careless and told corperate just that and was brushed aside. I really want this issue pushed as far as possible but dont know where to star. Waiting untill someone gets hurt z
Jody McNeal - November 12, 2012
Im having a hard time getting a well known grocery store to stop blocking the exits which is hard if your not handicaped but is impossible for a handicaped person to exit quickly in an emergency. I was told by store managemnet it loss prevention, i think its very careless and told corperate just that and was brushed aside. I really want this issue pushed as far as possible but dont know where to star. Waiting untill someone gets hurt z
joe lee - November 23, 2012
Mr frankovich, i am in litigatin with Del MarThoroghbred Club, they are run one of the biggest meets in the nation. I am pro se at this time, i am a Disabled Vietnam Veteran in need of legal help or at least a legal advisor. I am going against a huge corporation who has unlimmited resources, and deep pockets. Dued to my disabilities, i am limmited. If you are interested or know someone in the San Diego area, please respond.
A.QUINTA - December 14, 2012
LK - December 26, 2012
I live in a hotel/condo and have issues with the owners about ADA compliance. My wife had a hip replacement for 11+ years, she dislocated her replacement twice since she had her hip replaced. The hotel/condo that we reside have elevator issues. During our resident stay, my wife had to walk up and down 7 stories because of a public and hotel electrical outage. The hotel have a total three public and one emergency elevator of which only one works. I need to know what rights do we have?
deborah sue s. hicks - January 6, 2013
i need your help. the v.o.a. stopped giving me rides to my doctors, as of this thursday pass. a.j.(alice), passed up my street when she was taking me home. i told her to take the next street which is called marley rd. we had to go to the end of the street to turn around on the cul-de-sac. as alice was turing her car i told her one of the three homes makes meth and sells meth. i told alice it gets to be a big joke in st.tammany parish by the policemen. everytime the man's foster child, wyatt shoots his hunting gun, i call the policemen and i tell them, you know what home it is. it is the home where the man makes meth and sells it. i call 911 and tell them there is a policeman that is involved, so i am sure you will not do nothing about this, but i know you know the home. i having been making these calls for 18 years. this is how long i have been living in my home. when j.d, (alice), got back to the v.o.a. she told wanda, the lady that makes appts. for seniors, that i told her to turn on a drug street. i told wanda, a.j. had passed up menuet rd. where i live, so i told her to take the next street which was marley rd. and i told a.j how long i was trying to stop the stituation, but i never get anywhere. wanda did not seem to care and told me to get help from "go stat." as a.j. was dropping me off in my driveway, my neighbor dee catanese came yelling on my lawn that she was mad at me that i did not ask her to wash my clothes. my washing machine is broken. a.j.was scared and said, "that lady is coming on your lawn". i told a.j. do not say nothing. a.j. was very nervous from this. i turned around and looked at my neighbor, dee catanese , my neighbor and she started yelling at me, that she was mad that i did not ask her to wash my clothes. i am a post-polio survivor. i got polio when i was a year old. i got post-polio when i was 55 years old. polio is a neuromuscular disease. most people in the world do not know that this makes you weak ever day. i am now 62 years old. i have been a widow since 2004 and my 2 sons are in u.s.a.f. i ha
Richard Springer - April 17, 2013
I received a parking ticket for parking onto a crosshatch pattern. I have DP plates and was unable to fully fit my vehicle in the handicapped parking space due to another vehicle encroaching into my stall. I moved over in order to fit. I received a ticket and he did NOT. I did a written declaration to Sacramento County Parking contesting it, while waiting for a response my ticket was to be paid otherwise it would have been late and I would have been accessed additional fees. I Paid the fine, about 2-3 days later I received a response stating that another vehicle in my handicap stall does not give me the right to have any part of my vehicle in the crosshatch section and if I want an in person hearing I need to request it with my payment. I already paid the fine prior to receiving the notice, so I wrote in with receipt number to show the ticket was paid and I still have not received an answer on when my in person hearing is. I have since returned to that parking lot and noticed other vehicles park in crosshatch pattern or in places they should not have been. I called Sacramento County parking enforcement. I come out of the store an hour later still no tickets, and the vehicles are still parked like that. People with disabilities receive nothing. Whereas other who illegally park in handicapped stalls or force another vehicle to move over go unpunished. I have since measured the Parking spot and I believe they are not in compliance with ADA regulations based on what I found on the internet because I cannot get anyone in the City of Sacramento or Sacramento County Parking enforcement to return any email or phone calls in regards to this. Can you represent me to go after the City, Parking lot owner/business for the parking not being in compliance ?
Harry Dixon - May 9, 2013
Dear Sir I am a disabled person in a electric wheelchair, and I go down to some stores offer Laguna Boulevard around the 7700 block and there is one pet store there called Petco and they have their shopping cart rack sitting on the sidewalk in such a way that I can't get through the sidewalk and I have to go down into the parking lot with lots of cars to work my way around this 20 foot shopping cart rack. I have gone into the store several times and asked them if they would move their rack just back about 15 feet and it would give me plenty room to get around. They told me that they cannot do that and that I should have plenty room to get around their rack. I today on the eighth of May 2013 I come very close to getting hit by several cars and trucks that were roaring through the parking lot, when they see me this come. But it was almost too late, when I saw them I immediately moved to the side and almost ran into some parked cars. I went into the store and asked them if they could do something about this and it told me straight up no. There address is 7715 Laguna Blvd. elk Grove, CA 95758. Him It is something we can do I have pictures to show what I'm talking about if you want. Thank you Harry Dixon
Joe Bloggs - May 18, 2013
I agree.
Tim radleman - May 20, 2013
Last week my wife walk off her job because her suppervisor was giving a talking to behind close doors,my wife works very hard all the time. My wife wears hearing aids and has ask for her desk to be moved,or the filing cabnets,and the copy machine to be moved.she asked this many times. On thursday of last week her superviory took her into a room and told her the reason she is left out of things going on in the office is because of her hearing wife put her hands down on the desk and told her supervisore that they need to part ways.this was not the first time she has said this. The big boss and her supervisor do not like my wife because she is out spoken and tells the truth.i think they want her to leave.. I am a disabled vetran that got hurt serviNg my country and when i was in the hospital two years ago my wife was alwas by my side and thay acommadated her and they always tell her that the company helped her. My wife is my primary attendant. I do not think they can do this.. I thank you for any help you can provide,in this very hard time for my wfe and our family. Best regaurds tim randleman
SD.Angel - July 2, 2013
Regards to ada abuses etc. persons with disabilities have a hard enough time with access only they who live daily can attest to this, there are other issues of discrimination in general related to all of this that occur daily as well. pros/cons But there is a valid point with compliance a grace period of time in which to be compliant or some training to understand the point on issues.on point some persons alleging to support advocating on behalf of persons with any sort of disability may very well abusing the laws in place for which the protected class utilize for serial violators. @ targeting small businesses in violation rather than the property owner is just simply a change in law statute would ammend some issue at hand. heres an example of abuses I have an elderly sick grandparent which I was assisting' at Sharp Urgent Care . I had my service animal for which I utilize . I went back to the examine room for which my service animal accompanied me. i was asked about it 2 is this a support animal for which i stated yes Im back here with grandparent when again Im questioned a 3-4 time I show the tag Im frusterated , I felt 2 times was enough regarding the issue. I then was asked to leave with my service animal, although I was assisting my sick elderly grandpaernt.I explained I had a right to be there and requested names supervisors etc, This was a very bad experience and a violation of my rights. SD-Angel Laws are meant to support people advocate for a protected class Lawyers are our advocates and know the Laws for which we utilize """"unfortunately some need to pay in order to make changes'
Sean Kely - July 21, 2013
I am a 50% disabled veteran with a therapy dog (from my doctor) and the dog (Suzie) is also in service dog training and doing great. I went into a grill/bar in Pacific Beach, San Diego called Plumb Crazy. The front manager asked me if my dog helps me with my disability and I said yes and entered. I went to the restroom and an employee walked into the restroom and told me I and my service dog have to leave the restroom and the entire restaurant/bar. I told the employee I can not move as quickly as he wanted me to and I would need to speak to his manager (Stuart Olsen. Mr. Olsen told me he didn't care what my disability was nor my dog's importance and removed us from the property. I nor my dog (Suzie) created any problems in the business and I left hurt and confused. I do not know where I can go for help on this matter as the San Diego Police force has seemed to be cut in half and under-staffed with no one to help me.
Marcella Aguirre - July 29, 2013
I am a 67 yr.old American with Disabilities. My neighbor, who I share an upstairs landing and set of stairs with, also has disabilities (MS). Her friend, and HOA President, gave her permission, (w/o a quorum) and City permit, to install (2) outside chairlifts. The chairlift on our shared stairs presents a hazard for myself and partner, as well as family and friends who wish to visit. A discrimination campaign by her and her friends has been going on for over a year. The chairlift can be dismantled and an elevator chairlift built outside her upstairs condo terrace. I am now trying to have a new oven delivered up our stairs but the seller won't deliver unless the chairlift is dismantled. Can you help?
steve soto - November 14, 2013
I belive that there should ne access yo handicap people any where the go and is very unfair for them not to have any access
steve - November 27, 2013
looking for atty to address access violations and illegal h.c pkg stall contruction issues at gov court houses in redding ca. plus others seen around city. city is anti-handicap here ? just moved here to find only abuse of sick elderly and disabled. who fights for the little guy?
Lori Sims - December 9, 2013
In August 2013, our friends called Crossland Hotel in Rancho Cordova and made a reservation requesting a queen bed, kitchenette and a handicap bathroom for his wife who is paraplegic. November 25th came; they drove from Southern California to Northern California, a 9 hour drive. Arriving late in the evening at the Crossland Hotel, and were informed all of the handicap rooms were rented out and none were available. Another regular room was offered to them but with his wife being a paraplegic this was of no use to them given her state of disability. It was believed the rooms were being rented out to able body persons as a monthly rental. Recently after this appalling incident, I went onto to write a review about this hotel. And read another review stating that they too believe the rooms were being rented out to able body person (Homeless panhandlers), they too requested a handicap room for their mother and was told yes it would be available but when his mother arrived it was not. It seems this hotel has a history of renting its handicapped rooms to able body persons as monthly rentals, but still takes reservations for handicap rooms from disabled people. My friends are on a low fixed income and could not just find another hotel. I can’t fathom why Crossland Hotel would not tell our friends back in August, or even a day prior, they had no handicapped rooms available. Anyone else would be able to take another room. However, given anyone with a disability who is unable to use a generic bathroom set up; it is not as simple, and frankly unacceptable. Is there anything that can be done to stop this type of discrimination from happening to others?
Cheri Ramey - January 6, 2014
I am disabled because of a work injury. The disability is only half of what I have endured due to a church, church landlord and church employer of my husband (when he worked for them, they caused him quit due to harrassment). Is there not a way to get around the church hiding behind the state and be allowed to do whatever they want to do. They continue to harrass cause IRS issues by filing false work history, demanded my service dog be removed who is now dead and has caused increase pain and PTSD which affects my disorder. There must be a way to go after people not the church that they hide behind, these people purposely chose to cause me pain and did not care how it affected my disability or family. But they claim to be SDA christians, I am not the only one that is affected by the law which allows people to hide behind church and state laws. This law allows them to do attack or hurt whom ever they feel they deemed deserves their treatment.
I. - February 16, 2014
I joined a fitness club on a trial basis, an experience that was included demeaning and reprehensible treatment surrounding my need to have minimal accomodations (a companion/ caregiver present). Although I was never given any rule book or guide, and personally complied with the intent of such clubs tacit rule that only members use the facility, my membership was cancelled because of this, and I was denied a refund of my deposit because of this disability related accomodation. When we visited the club to discuss these events, Kellie, the owner, pointedly declared that she would not address me in the conversation because I am disabled. I never had a chance to comply, due to inadequate policy disclosure, and then was treated so reprehensibly, and hurtfully, along with being denied to get stronger and healthier at the facility of my choice. The law is made for violators to be held accountable. Unlike me Anytime Fitness has readily available access to the rules and to resources. Their hurtful noncompliance is deserving of accountability.
Jessie - March 10, 2014
I'm Jessie, posted earlier (January 13, 2012) about this issue. Also a veteran. I have to say, I really LOVE my lawyer. Can't talk about the case but he is so respectful of my service and he's disabled too, so he gets it. Law Offices of Paul Rein 200 Lakeside Dr, Oakland, CA 94612 (510) 832-5001
Rodolfo de Hoyos - May 6, 2014
I have personally given over 1400 notices to businesses in CA and less than 3% of them have actually complied after the fact. I am ready to begin my lawsuits against these negligent and discriminatory violators. No excuses, we offer them a solution to contact a state inspector to address the violations and nothing.... If you are an attorney and want to represent me contact me at 714-240-0635 and let's litigate!
Wes Schaeffer - June 23, 2014
Rodolfo, How much money do you make per lawsuit? I've read that you post ads on Craigslist to find "consultants" to whom you offer $250 for every violation they find. Is that true? If so, is that in keeping with the spirit of the ADA law? Do you have an office? Can we inspect it to ensure you are fully compliant? How can you run around the Temecula Valley filing these suits in your own backyard? What do you have to say for yourself?
Ocie - August 18, 2014
Wes here is Rodolfo's website which includes his address: ADA Advocates & Consulting 31938 Temecula Parkway #362 Temecula, CA 92592 I think its a great point you made to go out and inspect his office.
Cole Day - September 8, 2014
Would be nice to be able to get in touch with a lawyer who knows his or her way around the Unruh Civil Rights Act and can stand up to judicial swagger like Frankovich does. Me and my friends well, we're disabled and all having the same access problems. We have "party favors" for that party.
Cole Day - September 8, 2014
Would be nice to be able to get in touch with a lawyer who knows his or her way around the Unruh Civil Rights Act and can stand up to judicial swagger like Frankovich does. Me and my friends well, we're disabled and all having the same access problems. We have "party favors" for that party.
Kevin C. - September 22, 2014
Cole, I have a great atty. that helps me with my Unrue Civil Rights act cases. Call me at 714-306-3996 or email them at
Comment by Anonymous - November 27, 2014
You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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