20 November 2017
JMBM’s ADA Compliance and Defense team, led by my partner Marty Orlick, continues to help hotels and other businesses achieve compliance under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and is actively defending numerous ADA lawsuits brought against our clients.
Today, he shares one of the stranger tales of serial ADA litigation and describes how the judicial system in New Mexico stopped the plaintiff and her lawyer from filing frivolous and malicious ADA lawsuits.
New Mexico Judge Dismisses 99 ADA Lawsuits as Fraudulent and Malicious
Entertains Sanction Motions
Martin H. Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group
On October 26, 2017, a judge dismissed 99 ADA lawsuits, ordered an in forma pauperis plaintiff (a person without funds to pursue the cost of a lawsuit) to pay filing fees of $38,300 and authorized the defendants to file fee and sanction motions.
Surely, this plaintiff’s lawyer rues the day she answered an ad on Craigslist looking for a civil rights lawyer to file ADA litigation in her jurisdiction.
What’s going on?
A Strange Set of Circumstances
The Arizona-based organization, Litigation Management and Financial Services, Inc. (LMFS), a descendant of the notorious ADA plaintiffs’ group Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, used Craigslist, indeed.com and other online media to find and engage disabled plaintiffs to file ADA lawsuits, and lawyers to represent them. The online advertisements resulted in hundreds of ADA lawsuits filed against businesses in New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado and Utah.
It is also how a disabled plaintiff and her lawyer came to file 99 ADA lawsuits in New Mexico, alleging each defendant’s business violated the ADA and related anti-discrimination laws. According to court documents, the deal LMFS made with this plaintiff and her counsel, worked like this:
- The plaintiff was paid $50.00 per lawsuit filed.
- The plaintiff’s counsel received $100 per filing for serving as counsel of record for each lawsuit filed.
- LMFS drafted all pleadings and defended any motion practice in exchange for the lion’s share of any settlements that resulted from the lawsuits.
- LMFS also arranged for a driver to take the plaintiff to some — but apparently not all — of the businesses that were sued, for a photo-op.