Disability Lawsuits Target Minority Business Owners

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California has reportedly taken up 40 percent of the nationwide disability discrimination lawsuits.

In response, Unification of Disabled Latin Americans (UDLA) said that some unethical lawyers are abusing the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) to exploit small businesses, many of which include Korean-Americans in Los Angeles. UDLA added that it intends to fight against them.

In a press conference on Jan. 12 at the Olympic Community Police Station in L.A. Koreatown, UDLA criticized lawyers who are leveraging the existence of employees with disabilities to abuse the ADA, which in turn pockets them money.

UDLA also added that a large portion of small businesses suffering from such a phenomenon consists of establishments run by Korean-American owners. Those lawyers are taking advantages of the weaknesses in immigrant business owners who are pursuing their American dreams, UDLA explained.

Evidently and obviously, disability lawsuits often protect those who are vulnerable in society. However, critics say that some lawyers have conspired with them for the sole purpose of winning a lawsuit to make money.

Those lawyers often target business owners whose first language is not English to problematize petty little details, such as narrow entrances and bathroom facilities, to pocket a considerable amount of money by filing lawsuits.

In fact, Carmichael, Calif.-based lawyer Scott Johnson is notorious for using such tactics as it was learned that he has filed over 1,000 lawsuits against small business owners. Timothy Taggart, an Oceanside-based lawyer, has also raked in over $500,000 after filing more than 100 lawsuits over similar cases.

“Only 12 percent of Americans with disabilities reside in California,” said UDLA founder Ruben Hernandez. “At the same time, 40 percent of the lawsuits involving disabled people were filed in California. We do not want to be represented by lawyers who abuse the disability lawsuit to their advantage.”

In addition, Hernandez shared a story of a Korean-American woman in San Francisco had to close her business last November after she was sued three times, which cost her $130,000 in compensation.

To educate the public about the disturbing trend, UDLA is holding a seminar for small business owners who are interested in learning about responding to disability lawsuits.

Inquiries must be made via telephone at 213-388-8352.

Meanwhile, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 269 to curtail abuse of disability lawsuits. The bill stipulates that small business owners who have employed 50 or less people have the right to provide a response to disability lawsuits within 15 days after it is filed.

By Hyoung Jae Kim

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