from the is-he-just-looking-to-pile-on-more-problems? dept
Last week, we wrote a couple times about Paul Hansmeier’s new lawsuit strategy, which had some similar characteristics to ones he’s had in the past: they appear to be nuisance lawsuits designed to quickly extract settlements, rather than for any legitimate legal reason. He had done this in the past, obviously, with copyright trolling, but then again with class action lawsuits. The latest round involved claimed Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) violations, mainly arguing that various small business websites violated the ADA.
Remember, with the copyright cases, Hansmeier is now in trouble for being involved in bogus shell companies and forged signatures. With the class action objections, his clients were mostly close family members. Some of our commenters quickly speculated about whether or not the “clients” in these ADA cases were real… or, if they were, if they knew the lawsuits existed. Well, wonder no more. A local newspaper, The Mankato Free Press, has quite a story, detailing how at least one of the clients had absolutely no idea that Hansmeier was filing lawsuits on her behalf:
The plaintiff named in the Family Dentistry lawsuit is Lily Poss, a visually impaired woman from North Mankato. Poss said she supports the organization’s mission statement. However, she’s not sure she can support Hansmeier after learning about the tactics he’s using.
Poss had no idea that lawsuit, nor another one involving a business called Bancwest Investment Services, had been filed in her name. It was her understanding she would be providing information about websites that would be used to educate businesses, she said. She said it was possible that lawsuits would be filed if businesses didn’t comply, but she didn’t realize Hansmeier and Class Justice would be going after small businesses such as Family Dentistry.
The article notes that Poss signed up for this after getting a call from a cousin she hadn’t spoken to in years — named Allan Mooney. You may recall that name from previous Prenda lawsuits, where it was spelled many different ways (Allan Mooney, Alan Mony, Alan Moony, etc), and who later told a reporter that he didn’t know he was involved in these lawsuits. Of course, now you have to wonder about that if he’s signing up his long lost cousins for the latest wacky scheme from Hansmeier to shakedown companies.
Hansmeier, quite incredibly, is claiming that he’s working for the good of disabled people, tossing out this astounding line:
“We consider ourselves to be an advocacy association more than we consider ourselves a law firm,” he said. “With the porn reputation, I wanted to shift my focus and focus on something more positive. We’re really focused on doing it right so anyone who hears about us says, ‘Yeah. This is the right way to go about it.'”
I know. Stop laughing. Of course, no one thinks this is the right way to go about it. The same reporter asked Ken Rodgers, the past president of the American Council of the Blind chapter in Minnesota, who agreed that websites that were hard for the blind to read can be a problem, but also made clear that he did not support what Hansmeier was doing at all, and, in fact, felt that it was just another way to squeeze money out of companies:
“Is he trying to make websites accessible, or is he just banking on the lawsuit revenue?” Rodgers said. “All this is doing is making the attorney wealthy, not fixing the problem. I would much rather have somebody make a business case to a business that has a website.”
Furthermore, for all of Hansmseier’s claims of doing “advocacy” work, when the reporter asked him to detail what advocacy organizations he’s working with, he couldn’t name any.
Filing a lawsuit on behalf of a client who hasn’t actually agreed to be a part of that lawsuit could be a huge problem (though Hansmeier likely has bigger problems ahead on the priority list). Also, there’s at least some potential that these plaintiffs may end up on the hook for attorneys’ fees for the filing of bogus lawsuits.
Either way, you have to imagine that the almost certainly ongoing criminal investigation of Hansmeier’s activities detailing the list of things he’s done, the fact that he’s continued to work on questionable schemes like this one, even after being slammed in courts all over the country for previous activities, won’t reflect well on him.
Early on, I mentioned that Steele and Hansmeier really reminded me of some people I knew who were absolutely positive they were smarter than everyone else, when they really weren’t. It’s like they’re playing chess by thinking they’re the best chess players in the world because they can think one move ahead, while the people they’re playing against can clearly see many moves ahead. It’s astounding that they don’t realize that each move they make only makes things worse and worse and worse.