Monday, January 13, 2014

Not Just One Violation

I often find parking lots such as the one shown in the photograph at the right where the owners have obviously been involved in an ADA lawsuit.  The indications include bright new blue paint and shinny new post signs, however, what I usually find is that while the building owner now believes they are secure from future lawsuits, they are not.

Serial plaintiffs are very good at what they do.   Often they will perform a complete ADA Survey of a property without anyone knowing.   Their survey will include both the exterior and interior and may include as may as 30 violations, however, when they do file a lawsuit, they often only include 12 of the 30 items.   Why is this……………the answer is simple.   They know that building owners and tenants will only correct items described in the lawsuit and are totally oblivious to other violations that may exist unless they enlist the services of an accessibility professional.

This practice allows the serial plaintiffs to come back again and again and file separate lawsuits at a later date.   I have seen this happen several times.   It is for this reason, that those building owners or tenants who are involved in a lawsuit must enlist the services of accessibility professional and they must address ALL of the violations on the site.

What is not shown in the photograph is that numerous other violations occur on the site including the lack of a tow away sign, designated pathway from the parking to the entry, proximity of the accessible parking to the main entry, incorrect signage on the wheel stop and requiring a disabled person to wheel or walk behind a car that is not their own to name just a few of the many violations.

It is obvious from reviewing this photograph that the building owner did not enlist the services of an accessibility professional because if they had, there would not be the number of violations that I have noted above.   Building owners and tenants must understand that contractors do not have any formal training in the ADA.   As a result, they often make simple mistakes such as those noted above that continue to subject building owners and tenants to lawsuits.   To protect themselves, building owners and tenants are advised to hire an accessibility professional ( a CASp in California ) to survey the property and provide a report on the violations and then hire an Architect to develop construction drawings that can be submitted to the Authorities having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s).   Having plans approved by the AHJ’s for everything but the smallest violations is really the only way for a building owner or tenant to have a reasonable level of protection against future ADA lawsuits.

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