Yet another 'serial suer' story

Bill and Sam Wu of Elk Grove have joined the burgeoning rolls of California business and property owners under siege by serial suers.

The subject of this Jan. 12 Sacramento Bee story by reporter Marjie Lundstrom is "Scott N. Johnson, who is quadriplegic and drives a full-size van with hand controls and a wheelchair lift." Lundstron says Johnson is "a prolific Carmichael, Calif., attorney, who has filed more than 150 disability-access lawsuits since August 2003."

I haven't heard of Johnson; haven't seen any stories about him, haven't read about him on any disability email lists that generally keep up with this sort of thing. But it's clear that this reporter is using the tired old story model used to write about crips who sue for access. No new angle here!

Lundstrom writes,

California, as one of only a few states that allows for monetary damages and attorneys' fees in ADA cases, is seeing an explosion in disability-access lawsuits. And a huge chunk of those cases is coming from just a handful of plaintiffs and attorneys, people whose litigious track records have made many business owners -- big and small alike -- suspicious and wary of any disabled person who comes on their premises.

It really gets old after awhile. The story is always the same in this "suing for access" genre, as I wrote in my Dec. 19 blog entry. The themes touched on are always these:

* the attorney is just out for money.
* filing lawsuits is an evil act against small businesses.

This story also features the fairly common subtext that suits just end up hurting disabled people themselves. In this story, the form this takes is the "disabled people are hurting themselves because now businesses are wary of them" line.

I understand that activists associated with the group Californians for Disability Rights are getting ready to mount a campaign -- which I hope will be very very public -- against the proposed voter initiative being readied by CA business groups to gut state access laws and take away the damages provision.

As far as I'm concerned, a strong counter-offensive mounted by disability rights groups can't come a moment too soon. I continue to wonder why the CA disability community remains so relatively quiet in the media about this constant barrage of biased coverage. Some speak out; some write op-eds. But the output should be much much greater!

Read Lundstrom's
Litigious crusaders for disabled strike at mom-and-pop shops (Sacramento Bee).

January 13, 2006 | Email this story


Comments (newest comments at bottom)

Grrr. If these thoughtless twits would just follow the law and make their establishments accessible, then they wouldn't have to worry about "frivilous" lawsuits!

Posted by: The Angry Gimp on January 13, 2006 04:48 PM

Small businesses are not the only ones... Is your local independent living center accessible? I dare you to confront this unfortunate reality.

Posted by: K O on January 14, 2006 04:08 PM

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