Angered by ADA Lawsuits, Citizens Plan Courthouse Protest Friday
December 20 from 10:30 – 2 pm
From the Times-Standard’s article today by Will Houston:
Local business owners and advocates are planning to gather in front of the Humboldt County Courthouse Friday morning to protest Eureka attorney Jason Singleton, who they claim is unfairly targeting businesses for financial gain using Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits.
James Blount, a retired Arcata man, is organizing the protest, set to take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
”I got tired of sitting back and watching it all happen,” Blount said.
A federal court records search shows that Singleton has filed 259 federal lawsuits relating to ADA violations since 2005, with 23 cases filed in 2013. Many of these lawsuits have been directed at Humboldt County businesses, including Village Pantry, the Minor Theatre Corp., Cher-Ae Heights Casino, Cafe Waterfront, Barnes Arcata Family Drug, McKinleyville’s Central Station bar, Six Rivers Brewery and Arctic Circle.
Blount decided to arrange a protest after Porter Street Barbeque in Arcata closed its doors in November after settling a lawsuit with Singleton.
Scott Seelye, owner of Porter Street Barbeque in Eureka, was sued by a plaintiff represented by Singleton in September for multiple ADA violations at his Arcata restaurant. After settling in mid-November to avoid further court costs, Feelye said that he could not afford to pay the money needed make the building compliant. As a result, he shut down the location.
Seelye said that he only received a handwritten letter with no contact info before being handed a court summons shortly after.
“There was no phone number on the letter, no way to contact them,” Seelye said. “If someone has a specific problem, why would I not want to make it right? Our first issue in mind is customer service.”
While Seelye does agree that buildings should be made compliant with the law, he also said that business owners should be able to address the violations — especially if they are minor — without having to go straight to the courtroom.
”I think this is not about ADA compliance,” Seelye said. “I think this is about a specific lawyer taking advantage of local business people…”
(A partial excerpt, you can read the full Times-Standard piece by Will Houston here)
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