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‘Hell on wheels’: Five disabled New Yorkers file hundreds of lawsuits

Five New Yorkers in wheelchairs are behind practically 400 lawsuits introduced towards small companies for missing handicap entry.

Such authorized claims have been criticized as half of a “cottage trade” of “serial plaintiffs” who goal mom-and-pop institutions for fast money settlements. But others see the fits as serving to implement the American with Disabilities Act.

Wheelchair ramps and toilet doorways will not be the one battleground. Two blind New Yorkers have taken the battle on-line, submitting a mixed 23 fits towards enterprise Web websites that didn’t have screen-reading software program for the visually impaired. And a girl cited seven companies for not permitting her service canine inside.

Zoltan Hirsch, 37, a double amputee from Brooklyn, is hell on wheels for individuals who fail to make their institutions wheelchair accessible. Since 2010, he has filed swimsuit towards 195 companies starting from a Soho eyeglass store to Brooklyn bodegas to a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant.

Four different New Yorkers have filed 200 fits over wheelchair entry: Luigi Girotto (70 fits), Pedro Fontanes (55), Jerry Cankat (52) and Nauqone Taylor (23).

Fontanes, 69, of Queens, has filed 13 fits towards companies alongside Fifth Avenue in Park Slope between Ninth and Bergen streets.

He claims to have suffered “hurt” and “damage” at cafes together with Le Pain Quotidien, Pizza Town, Uncle Barry’s, SkyIce Sweet & Savory, Dizzy’s Diner and Konditori Swedish Espresso Bar.

At Konditori, he additionally griped that the lavatory mirror was too excessive.

Mark Caserta, director of the Park Slope Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District committee, blasted the fits, saying: “This shouldn’t be taking place. Small enterprise are already struggling to remain afloat, and these lawsuits may put them over the sting.”

Dennis Kearney, an legal professional who defended Uncle Barry’s craft beer bar towards Fontanes this 12 months, famous most defendants settle to flee the price of litigation.

“Why would anyone pay $100,000 in authorized charges to go to trial after they will pay a fraction of that and be accomplished with it?” he mentioned.

“Why would anyone pay $100,000 in authorized charges to go to trial after they will pay a fraction of that and be accomplished with it?”

– Dennis Kearney, legal professional

Plaintiffs usually ask for modest damages however demand fee of their attorneys’ charges, which may prime $20,000. Kearney believes the plaintiffs and attorneys cut up the charges.

Commercial Web websites are the latest profitable authorized goal.

Blind Brooklyn resident Marion Kiler, 66, sued eight websites all through the state throughout May and June.

Among them was the Museum of Sex’s on-line retailer, the place she claimed to have made “quite a few” makes an attempt to purchase merchandise. The website’s wares vary from nipple clamps to penis-shaped pasta.

Cheryl Krist, 62, of Manhattan, has introduced seven fits towards companies, together with an East Village McDonald’s, for not permitting her service canine, Bocci, inside.

But Kenneth Shiotani, an legal professional on the National Disability Rights Network, referred to as non-public litigation the “best enforcement mechanism” to make the town incapacity pleasant.


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