Serial ‘disability law’ litigation, damage pay-outs and settlement

Oct 06 2022

Our weekly roundup of recent ADA litigation cases

This week, the risks posed to organizations by serial litigants, the cost of damages, and choosing to settle.

Is serial litigant a do-gooder or a scammer?

In last week’s roundup we placed the spotlight on a serial litigant who had filed dozens of lawsuits (opens in a new window) based on website inaccessibility for the blind and visually impaired. This week we cast an eye on Andres Gomez who, by some estimates, has filed more that 600 disability compliance lawsuits.

Gomez’s actions, which has seen him target some of the biggest names in fashion retail for violating state and federal disability laws, has divided opinion. Some have said that he has done this for his own personal gain, with one attorney even suggesting that he was overstating his degree of blindness. Gomez’s lawyer defends his actions, stating "He's an ADA tester.... Some people have made it their life's calling to make sure the ADA works and Mr Gomez is one of those people." (opens in a new window)

Damages claimed under the California Unruh Civil Rights Act

In the litigation cases instigated by Gomez, he has sued the parties based on state (Unruh) and federal (ADA) disability laws.

The monetary pay-out under Unruh can be substantial, allowing the plaintiff to recover actual damages and an amount up to three times the actual damages for each violation of the Unruh Act, “but in no case less than $4,000…” for each and every offense (Cal. Civ. Code § 52(a); Munson v. Del Taco, Inc.,Del%20Taco%2C%20Inc. (opens in a new window)

Choosing to settle

Litigation cases of the type discussed in this article, raise concerns amongst defendants about the cost of paying out of damages and mounting attorney fees. This forces some organizations to consider settling.

The case of Walters v. Fischer Skis U.S., LLC was recently settled after they fought a case dating back to November 14th, 2021 and failed in their bid to get it dismissed.

In this instances, and others similar, the settlement amount was undisclosed; see our earlier weekly roundup for Optavia’s settlement terms. (opens in a new window) Many choose to settle for a cost less than the accumulated total of damages, but some have become critical of outcomes that don’t require steps are taken to bring websites into compliance.

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