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ADA Lawsuits Unfairly Target Businesses, Restaurant Owner Says

A well known lawyer and his clients have made it their business to sue small businesses, including a number in San Bruno, for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Who's right and who's wrong?

Glenn Mao, the owner of , didn’t think much when Marshall Loskot came in to the restaurant and ordered something to eat.

Loskot, a quadriplegic, was just like any other customer Mao had seen. He stayed for about a half hour and then asked to use the bathroom. Then he left and only returned a few more times.

Shortly after, Mao was served with a lawsuit by Loskot and his lawyer, Thomas Frankovich, for failing to provide adequate handicapped access under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Over the last decade or so, Frankovich and his clients, such as Loskot, have made it a practice to sue businesses, especially small ones. An SF Weekly story estimated that, as of 2007, Frankovich had made more than $10 million just from the ADA lawsuits.

Mao said he paid nearly $40,000 to make improvements to his restaurant’s bathroom and front door, which weren’t in compliance with ADA rules.

But he’s concerned about the number of other small businesses across the Peninsula that have become targets of the ADA lawsuits.

“Nobody can take a hit like this,” Mao said of the lawsuits, “especially when people are trying to keep a family business going.”

In San Bruno alone, Loskot has already sued the , —along with London Fish & Chips, their buildings are all owned by the same person— and a hotel. More than 60 other businesses have been sued as well.

Mao and many other critics of the lawsuits say they don’t disagree that businesses should comply with ADA regulations. But it appears that the lawsuits are unfairly taking advantage of business owners.

“He’s not trying to make me comply,” Mao said about Frankovich. “He’s using (the lawsuits) for his convenience more like a crusade. He’s asking for money, and he thinks he’s doing good for the wheelchair community.”

What do you think? Are these ADA lawsuits unfairly targeting hardworking small business owners? Or should business owners, no matter how old is their business, be more responsible?

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M Z May 04, 2012 at 04:27 AM
I would like the city to follow ADA and enforce ADA. The city is missing curb cuts, sidewalks, etc. ADA has been around for a long time. There has been more than plenty of time to be compliant. Try getting around with a family member that is in a wheelchair or can not walk far. ADA compliance makes are big difference.
Angelique May 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I think it's unfair targeting. If you can't get around then don't go there but stop these frivolous lawsuits. People are way too sue happy! I have been in a wheelchair, if u can't shop/dine etc there then I look at it as the business doesn't want your money. Go somewhere else!
Joe Capote May 05, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Lawsuits aside, on of the major problems is that ADA compliance is a moving target. Build a brand new building today, you will be out of compliance by tomorrow. The intent is on point, but the letter of the law makes it impossible. Lawsuits that target small businesses in this fashion do more harm than good. Putting people out of work and closing small business under the crushing weight of continued lawsuits is surely not what lawmakers inteded when legislators passed the act in 1990. There has to be a better way.
joe May 05, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Scumbag lawyers!! ADA has a time and place but to put such a burden on small businesses is unfair!!
Nunya Bidness May 10, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Wholly wrong. If you build a building today AND it is compliant with the increasingly reasonable federal ADA design and construction standards, and you will be safe-harbored when in another 10 to 20 years (it took 20 years to move from the first ADA standards to the recently enforceable 2010 ADA standards), a new set of ADA standards is developed. In that same 20 years, building codes would have been re-worked and re-adopted as many as 6 times. Why aren't you griping about the changes to the life-safety and fire codes?

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