Team Prenda's Paul Hansmeier Now Suing Companies Over Supposed ADA Violations
from the everything's-a-shakedown dept
Like so much of what Team Prenda gets involved in, this plan appears to be copied from others. Last year, we wrote about a dangerous ruling that suggested that Netflix could be subject to the ADA for not making its movie streaming accessible to the deaf. At the time, we noted that this could be a dream for shady lawyers, and it looks like Hansmeier felt this was a perfect role for him. Hansmeier appears to be targeting small businesses -- those who are least likely to be able to afford a full legal defense, making them a lot more willing to settle. In one case, he's sued a dentist, arguing that the website does not comply with the ADA. Another case involves a small sporting goods store, though at least the accusations there are about the physical store, rather than the website. Even then, though, the accusations seem questionable. Hansmeier claims that the store is not accessible because there's a step in the front -- but the store owner's response points out that there's a second, fully accessible entrance for wheelchairs in the back, which is open during all store hours. Hansmeier also argues that the bathroom in the store does not have grab bars and thus is not ADA compliant, but the store owner points out that the bathroom is for staff use only, and it sounds like he let the guy in the wheelchair that Hansmeier is representing, Jaime Veliz, use the staff-only bathroom as a favor. As a thanks for that, they get sued.
Once again, all of these lawsuits that Hansmeier gets involved in seem to show a fairly similar pattern, looking for scenarios where it will almost always be less of a hassle to just pay off Hansmeier to go away than to challenge the (often questionable) legal claims in court. It's unclear how many of these ADA lawsuits Hansmeier has filed. There are only two in federal court, where they're easy to find, but the latest one was actually filed in Minnesota state court, and was then removed to federal court. For all we know there could be more in Minnesota state court, which are harder to find out about. Either way, Hansmeier really seems like the kind of person who gives lawyers such a bad reputation.