It’s no secret that California has been home to some of the most vicious ADA attorneys in the Nation for well over a decade. These attorneys widely use tactics like those of old Mafia “Dons” to extort money from hard working, unsuspecting small business owners.
But California is not the only western state that is experiencing a huge increase in “drive-by” ADA lawsuits.
Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico have officially joined the ranks of western states that are being devastated by activist ADA attorneys and their handful of “disabled clients” or what I prefer to call “professional pawns.”
So, who are these people? More importantly, what is their mission?
Let’s take it state by state …
Let me introduce you to AID: Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Foundation.
This entity called Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Foundation, Inc. (“AID Foundation”) has filed more than 950 ADA lawsuits this year alone against local businesses and commercial landlords.
AID Foundation’s tidal wave of ADA lawsuits began in Scottsdale, spread through Phoenix and has flooded the East Valley for some time. To the right are just some of the people associated with AID.
But AID didn’t just remain in the greater Phoenix area. When the Arizona Attorney General threw out over 1,000 cases brought by AID, they got creative.
AID employees have been linked to four different entities that are operating in three states – each entity has its own plaintiff and attorney.
In Colorado, two groups are currently destroying local small businesses.
ADA Justice Advocates & Colorado Legal Counsel
ADA Justice Advocates started filing lawsuits in the Denver area late last year. So far, the group has sued 125 businesses. Their attorney is James Carr, who files cases on behalf of disabled client Melissa Umpenhour. Ms. Umpenhour has filed over 80 lawsuits just in 2017. Here is a map of her activity.
Umphenour’s cases are largely carbon copies of one another and cases recently filed by other plaintiffs in New Mexico and Nevada. There are some investigators that believe Umphenour’s cases are tied to websites such as: ADAJustice.com and NewMexicoADA.com which have connections with AID.
Coincidentally, the group posted jobs for civil rights advocates and ADA attorneys in Denver, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, Nevada just a few months before this wave of litigation hit the three states.
Colorado Legal Counsel was established in 2013 by Jeff Emberton. He started filing lawsuits in the area around Colorado Springs. Terrell Fredrick is his “disabled client” who sues on behalf of his disabled son. What’s strange is that Jeff Emberton’s email address is part of a domain called “adacivilrights.com”.
This website is currently “out of order”
Are you seeing a disturbing pattern here? Yeah, me too!
One local business owner stated: “Small businesses are just trying to make ends meet, but dozens of us are getting hit hard by this wave of lawsuits claiming we discriminate against people with disabilities. One local news team learned some of the alleged violations are bogus and that the lawsuits appear to be connected to a lawsuit-filing machine across the Southwest United States.”
Terrell Fredrick has filed over 22 lawsuits on small business owners within a 3-mile stretch of Colorado Springs. Here is his map of activity.
In New Mexico, attorney Sharon Pomeranz has sued more than 99 businesses on behalf of disabled client Alyssa Carton. Her firm is called “New Mexico ADA”. One attorney-One client!
What a cozy little practice. But Wait!
This team is already in trouble. In Arizona, AID sued 1700 businesses in a six-month period. After an investigation, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office intervened and convinced a judge to dismiss all the group’s open cases. During that time, AID formed “Litigation Management & Financial Services” and recruited attorneys and plaintiffs to file hundreds of cases in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico
The plaintiff, Alyssa Carton’s, contract with Litigation Management states that she gets paid $50 per lawsuit. In return, the company pays all attorney, legal and court costs associated with the case and is “first entitled” to the proceeds.
The contract with attorney Sharon Pomeranz is a structured differently.
It states Litigation Management and Financial Services pays Pomeranz $100 per filed case. The company then collects $2,000 for each case that results in a financial award through settlement or judgement.
This is disgusting and should be illegal!
In Nevada, Las Vegas attorney Whitney Wilcher has sued several dozen businesses on behalf of disabled client, Kevin Zimmerman. His firm is “Nevada ADA”.
They have filed over 275 lawsuits this year claiming civil rights violations under the ADA. But this assault may be coming to an end. This duo has been linked with AID and a local investigation report was aired several weeks ago which has forced the “disabled client” to possibly wrap things up. His last filing was May 20th and he has increased his number of settlements with the defendants. His settlement amounts range between $3,900-$7,500.
If only these business owners had access to a helpful checklist of items to look for within their facility, they may not have been a target. Well, I’ve got a great Retail ADA Checklist here! Download it now!