In an update of a blog posted August 29, 2016, I can report the following on the progress of these lawsuits. This office represents a number of property owners who have been targets of litigation by Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Foundation, Inc. (“AID”) for the property owners’ alleged violations of federal and Arizona American Disabilities Acts (“ADA”). The lawsuits relate to technical parking and parking sign issues: (1) the requirement that handicapped signs must be at least 60 inches above the ground; (2) the parking spots must be van accessible and properly signed; and (3) the international handicap icon signage must be on the sign. These requirements became effective in 2010 as a result of rules being adopted by the Federal government. Properties constructed before 2010, while complaint with the earlier ADA requirements, may now not be compliant with the 2010 requirements, thus subjecting property owners to risk.
There are approximately 1200 AID cases pending in Maricopa Count. The Arizona Attorney General has intervened in these cases and has filed a motion to consolidate the cases and stay further actions. As a result of those motions and the positions taken by individual defendants, all of the cases have now been consolidated before Judge Talamante in Maricopa County Superior Court, who has issued a stay order, meaning that further actions by the Plaintiff against the defendant property owners are on hold until further notice of the Court.
Interestingly, a number of cases filed by the Plaintiff have been removed from state court to Federal court, where Federal Judges are looking askance at the Plaintiff’s claims. For instance, on October 13, 2016, U. S. Federal Judge Snow concluded that Plaintiff did not allege “a concrete and particularized” injury and therefore lacked standing, and sent the case back to state court for consideration as one of the consolidated cases.
It has been estimated that prior to the most recent wave of filings in 2016, Plaintff settled more than 300 cases with individual property owners paying approximately 1.2 million dollars in settlement. It is expected that the Arizona Attorney General’s office will soon file a motion to dismiss some or all of the cases due to lack of standing by Plaintiff and may even seek sanctions against Plaintiff and perhaps its counsel.
At this time because of Judge Talamante’s stay order, no further proceedings are required to be filed in any of the cases. The consolidated case will be monitored for further judicial developments.
Lat J. Celmins
Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only. Legal advice is provided only through a formal, written attorney/client agreement.