In costly California, small businesses can find it difficult to survive if they become the target of a lawsuit. And that’s the problem faced by six entrepreneurs in San Luis Obispo who are being sued by convicted pedophile Robert McCarthy on the grounds that their facilities do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), reported the Tribune.
McCarthy, who uses a wheelchair, has a history of such lawsuits. In the past 13 years, he has sued approximately 250 businesses in California. Each lawsuit targets alleges ADA violations and seeks money.
And he isn’t the first person to focus on the ADA’s potential for such lawsuits. Jarek Molski previously sued more than 400 California businesses, with 90 in San Luis Obispo.
Tracking these litigants is the work of Julie Griffiths, who represents California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. She contends that McCarthy and others are deliberately targeting small businesses, who may offer money in order to avoid the expensive process of a long, drawn-out court case.
“I’d say there’s about 15,” estimated Julie. “They keep busy.”
In the case of McCarthy,who has been convicted previously for both fraud and sex charges, the six San Luis Obispo county lawsuits allege that the targeted businesses are discriminating against the disabled community because they are not sufficiently accessible.
The businesses range throughout the county, including Morro Bay’s Bay View Inn and Best Western El Rancho, Atascadero’s Bay Laurel Nursery, Clubhouse Sports Bar & Grill in Los Osos, Morro Bay Market & Spirits, and quaint Cambria’s Creekside Inn, shown below.
“Plaintiff alleges there is a national public interest in requiring accessibility in places of public accommodation,” claims his lawsuits.
Each lawsuit requests $4,000.
For example, McCarthy charges the Bay View Inn for allegations that the lobby lacked the International Symbol of Accessibility and an overly high lobby counter.
Tim Hayden, operator and partner at Creekside Inn, responded with his views.
“As a local community member I am outraged that a con man from Arizona who spent time in prison for fraud feels he can come to San Luis Obispo County and target businesses for predatory lawsuits and personal gain. He’s using the California legal system as a personal ATM.”
Nancy Rice owns the Bay Laurel Nursery. She expressed her fear about the impact of a hefty lawsuit on her own small business.
“This is a very small, privately owned nursery,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of funds.”
One problem with such lawsuits resides in the lack of clarification as to whom the ADA is intended to protect, reported the Modesto Bee.
For those who are disabled and experience insurmountable obstacles for such essential tasks as going to the grocery store, a company’s failure to comply with ADA regulations can be extremely frustrating. In contrast, small businesses who are targeted in lawsuits that allegedly abuse the legal system feel helpless.
And although it’s been almost 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, many small businesses still have not complied. As a result, says Griffiths, they are ideal targets for what she considers predatory lawsuits.
“It’s moving in. It’s coming your way,” warned Griffiths.
As the Inquisitr reported, San Luis Obispo is considered the happiest place in the nation. But for the small businesses in that county attempting to survive, the reality of coping with a pricey lawsuit can be the price that they pay to survive.
What do you think? Should something be done about such lawsuits? Post your comments below.
[Photo By Harold Cunningham/Getty Images]