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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Attorney
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I am an optometry doctor and practice in a small single story

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I am an optometry doctor and practice in a small single story building which I owned in California. I just received a summon from an attorney who represents a person who I don't know. He claimed my building parking lot did not have handicapped parking for his van and asking for $2,500 if I want to settle the case. It is a very common dirty scheme that lawyers hooked up with a handicapped person and file suits against many small businesses in the area. My building is an old building built in 1974 and as such there are no handicapped parking in the parking lot and I have never had any problem with the city building inspector. What should I do? Just pay the ransom? Please help.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

If the building was built in 1974, the ADA compliance standards are a little different. A business owner can be required to make accommodations that are reasonably feasible, considering the cost of the repair and the company's resources. Changing a parking lot so that it has an accessible parking space may not be that expensive (especially when compared to the likelihood that this will happen again). So, it may be possible to negotiate with them a scenario where the space is installed as part of a settlement. If redoing the parking lot is something that you cannot do because of the cost, then you'd have the legal right to defend the suit.

You also have a right to ask for some evidence that the person attempted to use your facility and was denied access. If he just happened to be driving by and said, "Hey! There aren't any accessible spaces!," then he hasn't legally suffered any injury.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The parking lot is in the back of the building and is on a slope. There is also a back door so that people can enter the building from the parking lot. However, there are 2 steps behind the door so that one has to walk down the steps before one can walk on the flat hallway.

Therefore, it is not practical to make a handicapped parking space on a slight slope and even if that can be done, the handicapped wheelchair still would not be able to enter the back door and get on to the hallway of the building. Of course, the handicapped still can move out of the parking lot, go around the block and then enter the building through the front door.

Under these difficult situations, is it possible that I can get some kind of exemption that I can get away from the ADA access requirement?


You can choose to dispute liability on the basis that

The problem is, if it is possible for a handicapped person to wheel around the building and enter from the front and the person in question is in a wheelchair (as opposed to other mobility issues), they might still choose to pursue it. That means that you could end up in court, arguing to the judge that the cost of redoing the parking lot is not reasonably feasible in light of the fact that the plaintiff still would not have access to the building. If the parking lot is for those using the building only (and i imagine that it is),

Be aware that they might try to claim that you need to put in a ramp or otherwise install access. That could involve hiring an accessibility expert to explain what is involved with that and what it would cost. A judge would then review whether, in light of your financial situation, the value of the property and the cost, it would be reasonably feasible for you to make the changes.

An alternative solution might be to arrange for persons with disabilities to park near the front door, if there is some way for you to do that. Then you could post a sign in the parking lot explaining that access is available in the front.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The front door has a side-walk curb of a busy street that allows street parking on the street by the curb. Can I request the city to create a handicapped parking space with van access by the curb in front of the building because it is impractical for me to make a handicapped parking space in the back lot to satisfy the ADA requirement? Does the city have the obligation to do that?

Thank you for all your precious information.

You could ask the city to provide a handicapped space in front of your building, yes. If you can establish that there are businesses on that street that are negatively impacted by not having a space, it's possible that they would do it. You unfortunately wouldn't be able to compel them to add a space there, but you can certainly make the request.
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