Wheelchair crusader sues UWS stores for not being handicapped-accessible

Dec 8, 2004
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#1
She’s hell on wheels for Upper West Side merchants.

Wheelchair-riding Linda Slone, 64, is suing 39 shops in her neighborhood for not being handicapped-accessible.

The legal crusade is netting her thousands, but Slone, who cannot walk because of polio, insists she is simply championing the rights of the disabled.

“If you think this is a money-making scheme, you’re dead wrong,” said Slone, a speech pathologist. “I, along with anybody else with a disability, has the right to go wherever they choose to go and not have to be dissuaded or inconvenienced or even apologetic.”



Helayne Seidman




RUNG UP: Nick Bazas (below) advertises an available wheelchair ramp at his shop but was still targeted by handicapped crusader Linda Slone.




Mom-and-pop shops live in mortal fear of her next visit.

“It’s a little too fishy to me,” said Andy Besch of West Side Wine, who settled with Slone this month.

“No one ever showed up at my store. No one was ever denied access. Yet I had to pay thousands and was given no opportunity to change anything.”

Barbara Gee Danskin, a shop selling dance gear, was also a target.

“It’s like getting hit up for money,” said owner Allan Greenberg. “It’s a shame. To fight it, you need deep pockets.”

Last month alone, Slone filed papers against eight shops on or near Columbus Avenue, aiming to force them to install ramps and other accessible features.

In each suit, all filed in Manhattan federal court, she demands $500 in damages, plus lawyers’ and experts’ fees, which could run up to $15,000.

She has settled half of her 39 suits since 2010. If she wins them all, she’ll reap at least $19,500 — and hundreds of thousands more for her Brooklyn attorney, Robert Mirel, who works for the Florida-based Weitz Law Firm.

Mirel declined to comment.

Weitz also represents Zoltan Hirsch, a Brooklyn double amputee who The Post revealed last year filed 147 suits citing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Most small shops have no choice but to settle since the cost of going to court would put them out of business.
Nick Bazas, of Quality Florists, called the drive-by litigation “extortion.”

“You’re asking me for $500 without coming into my store,” he said. “I have a ramp, a sign and a handicapped bathroom. If you would have asked me to use it, I have it.”

Slone said she often warns shops when their steps prevent her motorized chair from entering but admitted it’s easier to call her lawyers.

“I’m not going to sit outside calling for somebody. I’m not going to humiliate myself,” Slone said. “No self-respecting person is.”
Link

“If you think this is a money-making scheme, you’re dead wrong,” said Slone, a speech pathologist.

Riiiiiiight...

Guess she started close to home as there are a bunch of stores for rent in her building... weird eh.

Aaaaaand condos in her building run from 1.6 to 5 million... nice.
 

whiskeyguy

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#2
They had a local attorney doing that around here. He would literally measure ramps and doorways, and if they were 1/4" off he would find a defendant and sue the stores on their behalf. The defendant would get like $1k to every $5k he made. These were all mom and pop stores too... big box stores are extremely careful about this stuff during construction, but the local hardware store that was built in 1946 has more difficulty being up to code.
 

Sinn Fein

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#5
There was a guy doing this around the Philly area during the early days of the ADA laws. It led to alot of companies beating him top the punch and making their sites compliant all at once.
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#6
They had a local attorney doing that around here. He would literally measure ramps and doorways, and if they were 1/4" off he would find a defendant and sue the stores on their behalf. The defendant would get like $1k to every $5k he made. These were all mom and pop stores too... big box stores are extremely careful about this stuff during construction, but the local hardware store that was built in 1946 has more difficulty being up to code.
I'm curious what she would do is say a historic district where you can't change shit...
 

OilyJillFart

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#7
I work at a condo that has a pool for the residents. ADA laws require handicap access to the pool.
Well, technically, handicap access out of the pool.. In is no problem.

We aren't in compliance, as most of the buildings aren't.
We too have a crusader trying to make an issue of it.
Some places are already considering eliminating the pool, as the new expense is too much on top of the existing liability.
 

Ballbuster1

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#8
People suck. This is just another reason why we
need tort reform. Frivolous lawsuits amounting
to nothing more than extortion.
 

whiskeyguy

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I'm curious what she would do is say a historic district where you can't change shit...
I don't remember them targeting historic buildings (we have a lot of them around here... lots of Victorian houses that are now stores). Probably too much work because then he'd be fighting the historical society instead of just small business owners who can't afford to fight him.

I work at a condo that has a pool for the residents. ADA laws require handicap access to the pool.
Well, technically, handicap access out of the pool.. In is no problem.

We aren't in compliance, as most of the buildings aren't.
We too have a crusader trying to make an issue of it.
Some places are already considering eliminating the pool, as the new expense is too much on top of the existing liability.
That's America... if we can't have it, then neither can you.
 

MrAbovePar

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Mar 14, 2005
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#11
Look, yankees, remember what happened during the 60s to crusaders who came down south?

Just saying, you have a lot of people who know how to be quiet and have low morals.
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#12
Oh the lawyers previous client...

Amputee Embarks on Suing Spree




Suing Machine: Zoltan Hirsch files lawsuits at a rate of one a day against businesses that he says aren't handicapped accessible.

Zoltan Hirsch, a double amputee in a wheelchair, has claimed he is trying to make New York City more handicapped accessible, one lawsuit at a time, but some wonder whether Hirsch — who files suits at the rate of about one a day — is a crusader or con man, the New York Post reported Sunday.

The Brooklyn resident, who lost his legs after a car accident seven years ago, hits out at businesses ranging from a Brooklyn Dunkin' Donuts to Louis Vuitton in SoHo to Midtown's Lace strip club.

The suits, seeking damages and legal fees, typically claim Hirsch suffered “an injury” from being denied access. But it is unlikely the 31-year-old Hasidic Jew would patronize some of the establishments he cites, including the non-kosher City Crab restaurant. He even targeted a pedicure station at the Red & White Spa in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, though he has no feet.

Though Hirsch usually claims he cannot get into a business, his lawsuits are filled with precise descriptions of alleged violations inside — bars that are inches too high, condiments that are out of reach, and bathroom towels inaccessible to a wheelchair user.

He sued Sanctuary Tea in SoHo last month, one of 36 suits he filed in May alone, claiming he could not get in the door.

Owner Dawn Cameron said the thousands of dollars in legal fees to fight the case, or even settle it, could devastate her restaurant. There are two steps to reach the restaurant, and she said wheelchair users are helped inside.

“It's a shame that people are able to do this,” she said. “It's really just extortion.”

The claims often ask for $500 in damages for Hirsch, plus legal fees to his lawyer, Bradley Weitz of Florida, who has filed dozens of similar suits in that state. Those fees can reach $15,000 per case, swelling with each request for documents, payment to experts or travel reimbursements for Weitz.

One lawyer who defended a business sued by Hirsch said Weitz seems to be exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which allows the payment of attorney fees.

If even one violation of the ADA is upheld, Weitz can recover attorney fees, explained another lawyer. “It's ingenious,” he said, adding that defendants often settle quickly.

If Hirsch is successful in all his complaints, the law firm would make upward of $1.3 million — and that is just for the cases so far.

Hirsch and his lawyer have said they are not out for a buck but are championing the rights of the disabled, claiming success in forcing businesses to add wheelchair ramps or make other changes.

But Hirsch targets few businesses near his Borough Park home, instead setting his legal beagle upon businesses in swanky neighborhoods.

Hirsch, who claimed he likes to shop in SoHo, said that as soon as he spots a potential violator, he snaps a photo and sends it to Weitz, who dispatches an investigator.

He said he gets only $500 if a case is settled and no other compensation from Weitz. Several of the suits have been settled under confidential agreements, but most are still ongoing.

As for the non-kosher restaurants, Hirsch, who lives with his girlfriend and their daughter, said he would like to be able to enjoy a soda or even a scotch.

“It's my prerogative,” he said.
Link
 

Neon

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The Penn and Teller Bullshit episode about the ADA (I believe the episode is called "Handicapped Parking") really opened my eyes to how utterly stupid that law is (for the most part. I have a coworker with a disabled husband and she told me that certain things about it are actually OK).
 

OilyJillFart

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#15
He doesn't have a leg to stand on..
 
Dec 8, 2004
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The Penn and Teller Bullshit episode about the ADA really opened my eyes to how utterly stupid that law is (for the most part. I have a coworker with a disabled husband and she told me that certain things about it are actually OK).
Well like anything the law is fine... until someone figures out a money making angle.
 

Neon

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Well like anything the law is fine... until someone figures out a money making angle.
It's not just that. They attack it conceptually. They interview several successful disabled people who say that if they were born after it was enacted, they would have never achieved anything. They had to work extra hard to overcome obstacles and stuff like that. It doesn't mean you should let people discriminate against them, but turning them into perpetual victims who need to be treated with kid gloves is not the way to go.
 

gleet

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Jul 24, 2005
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#19
He even targeted a pedicure station at the Red & White Spa in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, though he has no feet.
I cried when I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

Then I laughed my ass off.
 

whiskeyguy

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We had a bar in college that was on the second story of a building... you had to walk up like 40 stairs to get to it. In this situation, you can't force the bar to put in an elevator. Someone actually complained that their bathroom wasn't wheelchair accessible.
 

jimmyslostchin

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Jun 8, 2005
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#21
She's a pain in the ass. There's no way she'll walk away from that kind of money.
 
Dec 8, 2004
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#22
Was going to look how many cases the lawyer had open in Federal Court... but you have to sign up for it... meh.
 

Ballbuster1

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#24
Oh look, it's this thread again! :cat:
And it'll keep happening until something changes.
There may be merit to the ADA act but it's obvious
that it's being exploited. To allow people to do this
is just total horseshit that costs everyone in the end.
 

OccupyWackbag

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#25
She better be careful or someone is going to put her in a wheel chair.