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Grassroots Action Urged On ADA Notification

April 16, 2001

E Fund underscores commitment to accessibility, not lawsuits

The National Restaurant Association is urging restaurateurs to contact their members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor legislation (H.R. 914) reintroduced by Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) that would give small businesses a fair chance to review and comply with an alleged violation to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) before a lawsuit is filed.

Specifically, small businesses would be informed of an alleged violation and then have 90 days to correct it. Some states, including Hawaii, California, Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina have been hit particularly hard by a wave of ADA litigation, and many restaurants have been the vctims. In some instances, the cases appear to be driven by unscrupulous lawyers seeking to exploit the ADA.

Foley’s bill would help protect restaurateurs, such as Association member Eddie Flores (L & L Drive-Inns, Honolulu, Hawaii), from being hit with crippling, frivolous lawsuits. Flores has been fighting an uphill battle against aggressive ADA lawsuits. As part of his battle, Flores was ordered to pay all attorney fees associated with each ADA claim brought against him, despite the fact he won the majority of the claims. The Association’s Save American Free Enterprise (SAFE) Fund has contributed $25,000 to Flores to assist him with an appeal.

“The $25,000 [SAFE] contribution is a tremendous moral and financial boost to my three years’ court battle,” says Flores. “I have already spent over $150,000 in legal fees and the expenses are a drain to my restaurant.”

“The National Restaurant Association has long supported accommodation of individuals with disabilities both as customers and employees,” says Association Legislative Representative Brendan Flanagan. “And when it comes to serving the needs of patrons, restaurants really want to do the right thing. Providing ease of access is only one of many ways that restaurateurs take care of their guests.

“But some people unfortunately are taking advantage of the ADA and filing flagrant lawsuits against restaurants and other small businesses. Just one frivolous lawsuit could drive a small restaurant out of business, not to mention divert time, attention and money away from accessibility and toward litigation.”

Take Action—contact your representative today and ask him or her to support ADA notification legislation. To contact lawmakers via e-mail, and for more information, log on to the Association’s Web site at www.restaurant.org/government. Lawmakers may be reached by phone via the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Source: Washington Weekly-NRA

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