Jerry Doran is a paraplegic who requires a wheelchair and a mobility-equipped vehicle to travel in public. He visited a Del Taco restaurant where he could not find a handicapped parking space near the entrance, and he also had difficulty using the restroom.

Doran sued the restaurant owners to force them to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) handicapped access requirements. Before the trial, the parties reached a $4,000 monetary damages settlement. The restaurant owner promised to remedy the architectural barriers.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

But Doran’s attorney then insisted upon receiving $39,795 attorney’s fees from the restaurant owners. The owners refused to pay, arguing that they never received any pre-litigation letter complaining about handicapped access to the restaurant.

If you were the judge would you award Doran’s attorney fees of $39,795?

The judge said no!

“Serial plaintiffs serve as ‘professional pawns’ in an ongoing scheme to bilk attorney’s fees,” the judge began. “The integrity of the bar is called into question by the well-publicized accounts of lawyers employing unethical tactics in the pursuit of their own financial gain,” he continued.

Many small businesses, when faced with costly litigation and a potentially drastic judgment against them, often quickly settle these ADA lawsuits for modest amounts, he emphasized.

“The Court holds it is a proper exercise of discretion and common sense in an ADA case or a parallel state case to require, as a prerequisite to recovering attorneys’ fees, a pre-litigation unambiguous warning notice to the defendant and a reasonable opportunity to cure the violation,” the judge ruled. Attorney fees denied, he concluded.

Based on the 2005 U.S. District Court decision in Doran v. Del Taco Inc., 373 Fed.Supp.2d 1028.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Network with CoStar, Redfin, Realogy, SERHANT., Divvy, and thousands more in-person at ICLV this October. Prices go up Sunday.Register Now×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription