Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits are increasing in Minnesota due to parking lot designs that are not compliant with the Act.
When a parking lot is not designed in accordance with the ADA, it can lead to accessibility issues. In May 2016, Governor Mark Dayton signed an amendment to the Minnesota Human Rights Act that requires people suing businesses for accessibility detail the specific violation. Businesses that are targeted by these lawsuits also have 30 days to respond to the complaint to avoid litigation.
Nonetheless, there are many compliance issues throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the Twin Cities as a whole. The entire state of Minnesota has businesses dealing with ADA complaints due to parking lot designs that don’t accommodate the disabled every well. Perhaps there isn’t any handicapped parking, the number of handicapped spaces may not agree with the parking lot size, or the flow of traffic may be dangerous. There are many reasons why a parking lot may not keep a disabled person safe.
One attorney was driving by parking lots and filing lawsuits to get them to comply. He cited that the fact he could sue so many businesses shows that the law is being ignored. He feels that disabled people are being ignored.
However, it isn’t always the fact that the laws that have been on the books for more than 25 years are being ignored. Sometimes it is because a business owner doesn’t know where to start or that there are affordable solutions to making their existing parking lot compliant.
The “drive-by” attorney states that he has spoken to business owners and one fixed the issue. His strategy is that if he sues multiple businesses, many more will fix their parking lot and accessibility issues.
It is important for businesses to comply with the law for the safety of their patrons, but also to avoid the potential cost of litigation. There are some disability groups that exist solely for filing lawsuits against businesses for non-compliance. This can lead to an extensive amount of unnecessary expense.
One small business in Hopkins is being sued for a handicapped parking violation but the owner is willing to pay her attorney more than the money demanded by the attorney suing her because she wants to stop him. The attorney, who is also disabled, asks businesses to fix their ADA violations and then pay him $2,000 for the time and effort he has put into the matter. If they don’t fix the issue, he files a lawsuit. He states that when they are violating the law, they are going to always be in danger of a lawsuit, so he says he is their best option. Because he is disabled, he considers himself on the inside of the matter and in the position to help people fix the problem.
The real solution lies in hiring a company that specializes in ADA compliant parking lot striping so that a parking lot can be properly marked, putting it in compliance with ADA mandates. This avoids complaints and costly lawsuits, which is important now that the number of lawsuits being filed in Minnesota is on the rise.