Small Businesses Watch Out for ADA Claims


An ambitious plaintiff and his attorney have been causing havoc for a lot of small businesses in the Twin Cities. This one plaintiff has filed 14 state court lawsuits against various small businesses over a two-year period alleging their businesses do not offer disabled persons access to the store/office/restaurant as required per the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act. In Minnesota, you can start and settle a case without filing in court, thus 14 is the minimum number of lawsuits he has served. In addition, he has filed six federal claims during this period. Wow. That’s litigious.

Edward E. Beckmann, Hellmuth & Johnson, PLLC represents small businesses in three more lawsuits that have not yet been filed and he represented a business earlier this year in dealing with a claim from this plaintiff. These claims can often be settled quickly, but at a cost. Typically, most of these claims are NOT covered by a commercial general liability insurance policy.

If possible, small businesses should be pro-active and remedy any ADA violations in buildings that invite the general public (retail stores/restaurants, etc.)

This plaintiff relies heavily on finding a violation of the federal Department of Justice guidelines for building accessibility. These guidelines are incredibly detailed, as you can see here.

Ed recommends that clients hire an ADA compliance expert to review the facility to ensure compliance. If you ever need assistance with such a claim, or to ward off a claim, contact Ed.