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Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

January 2, 2023

ADA Accessibility Lawsuits: Several New "Tester" Plaintiffs—Christopher Loadholt, Joseph Ortiz, Rafia Lawal, and Kareem Nelson—Targeting Businesses in Recent Flurry of Federal Lawsuits

We previously published legal alerts on April 13, 2022, October 20, 2022, and December 5, 2022, about numerous serial plaintiffs who, in recent years, have collectively filed hundreds, if not thousands, of accessibility lawsuits in federal courts all across the country.
 
There are now several new plaintiffs on the scene, including Christopher Loadholt, Joseph Ortiz, Rafia Lawal, and Kareem Nelson, who, according to court records, have collectively filed more than 200 lawsuits, primarily in federal district courts in New York State. 

  • Loadholt and Lawal have each filed approximately 45 lawsuits since March 2022. They are represented by Yitzchak Zelman, whose law firm (Marcus & Zelman, LLC) has filed roughly 300 similar lawsuits.
  • Ortiz has filed 27 lawsuits since July 2022. He is represented by Jeffrey Gottlieb, whose law firm (Gottlieb & Associates) has filed more than 1,400 similar lawsuits.
  • Nelson has filed 96 lawsuits since January 2018, including 14 lawsuits in 2022. He is represented by Erik Bashian, whose law firm (Bashian & Papantoniou, PC) has filed nearly 400 similar lawsuits. Note that, unlike the lawsuits filed on behalf of Loadholt, Lawal, and Ortiz, the lawsuits filed on behalf of Nelson are traditional barrier (rather than website accessibility) lawsuits.

As we have reported on numerous prior occasions, both federal and state lawmakers have taken steps in recent years to curb accessibility lawsuits; however, to date, no legislation has been passed. In the absence of legislation or regulations promulgated by the US Department of Justice, we recommend that businesses take steps to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local disability laws in accordance with DOJ guidance issued in March 2022.
 
In the unfortunate event you or your business are served with one of these accessibility lawsuits, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Barclay Damon, who have represented and continue to represent a number of defendants in these and similar ADA lawsuits. We will continue to monitor the development of these cases.
 
If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Rob Thorpe, partner, at rthorpe@barclaydamon.com, or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Area or Hotels, Hospitality & Food Service Team.

The Labor & Employment Podcast is a weekly Barclay Damon Live podcast hosted by Ari Kwiatkowski that provides employers with important updates regarding ever-evolving state and federal labor and employment laws as well as a wide range of timely topics pertaining to labor and employment issues in the workplace. Click here to watch or listen to the Labor & Employment Podcast as well as Barclay Damon’s other podcast series: Cyber Sip and Cannabis Counselor. 
 

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