Restaurant Law Blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

NYC Restaurants, Bars & Nightclubs Are Frequent Targets of ADA Lawsuits

How is the ADA related to restaurants and bars in New York City?

New York City’s age and architectural quirkiness are two of the reasons we all love it. Unfortunately, the aging nooks and crannies that give our city so much character also make it a challenging place for disabled people to navigate. Though most restaurants, bars, and nightclubs work hard to make their businesses welcoming to all patrons, fully complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often quite difficult.

ADA violations are actually so common in New York City that a cottage industry of attorneys that make their living solely by suing over ADA noncompliance issues has emerged. While this may sound like a noble way to earn a living, the truth is these lawsuits are little more than a shake-down act.

As the New York Times has reported, some law firms are sending private investigators out in search of ADA violations, then recruiting plaintiffs. Several lawsuits are often filed at the same time, by the same lawyer, on behalf of the same plaintiff. In one well-known case a law firm was caught actually filing cases on behalf of a make-believe plaintiff.

The cases rarely go to trial. Rather they settle for an often trivial payment to the named client and a few thousand dollars in legal fees for the attorneys.

If the disabled community is lucky, the settlement will also require the business to fix whatever ADA violation inspired the suit in the first place - be it a door that opens the wrong way, a paper towel dispenser that was not the proper height from the ground, or any number of other small violations

The lackadaisical attitude that the plaintiffs and their lawyers have toward the part of these lawsuits that will actually bring the business into compliance suggests that quick cash is their real goal, not a more accessible city.

A more efficient means of getting businesses to comply with the ADA would be to suggest they make changes before threatening a lawsuit since most businesses are quick to fix ADA compliance problems once they are aware they exist.

In an effort to genuinely improve accessibility and prevent these sort of lawsuits from plaguing our clients, the attorneys of the DiPasquale Law Group work in partnership with the firm’s clients and the city’s inspectors to ensure that all of their clients’ properties are ADA compliant. If inspectors find a violation, the firm works with clients to find an efficient means of correcting the problem to ensure that all patrons feel welcome and are able to enjoy the clients’ facilities and services. 

If you business is struggling with regulatory compliance issues give the experienced restaurant law attorneys at the DiPasquale Law Group a call today at 646.383.4607. The initial consultation is free if you are located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, or the Bronx.

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