Readers who follow the phenomenon of ADA filing mills (Dec. 7, etc.) may recall the case of West Coast attorney Theodore Omholt, who has filed hundreds of legal complaints against businesses for violations (trivial or otherwise) of disabled-access laws, which he then settles for cash. In Honolulu, according to one news report, Omholt filed 574 lawsuits. (Carolyn Said, “Controversial disability rights lawyer”, San Francisco Chronicle, Apr. 21, 2002.) Omholt then refocused his practice on California where he sent out the following letter, quoted in my article three years ago in City Journal:
I am the attorney (age 48) who for the past three years has had the privilege to represent a small action group of six wonderful individuals who use wheelchairs age 37 to 66. . . . Their shopping at inaccessible stores in San Francisco and then filing lawsuits as clients of mine against those inaccessible stores nets them each an income which makes them financially independent. For each of them, the lack of funds which used to limit them to life’s bare necessities and which plagues so many disabled individuals today has become only an unpleasant memory from the past. As a reward for implementing the law and making stores more accessible for other disabled shoppers, group members now use their stream of income to eat out at good restaurants when they want to, buy new clothes and computers and televisions and gifts for family members, travel and take vacations wherever and whenever they want to go, and live a lifestyle they could only imagine prior to joining the group. . . . The group has room for a small number of additional members. Once that small number of additional members has been selected, the group will again close to new members.
Alas, even the most thoughtfully devised business plans sometimes meet with a hitch. Reader W.R. alerts us to this copy of Supreme Court minutes (PDF) from San Francisco, dated May 10 of last year, which at page 51 reports the following:
S143253 OMHOLT ON RESIGNATION — The voluntary resignation of TED OMHOLT, State Bar No. 92979, as a member of the State Bar of California is accepted without prejudice to further proceedings in any disciplinary proceeding pending against respondent should he hereafter seek reinstatement. It is ordered that he comply with rule 955 of the California Rules of Court and that he perform the acts specified in subdivisions (a) and (c) of that rule within 30 and 40 days, respectively, after the date this order is filed.* Costs are awarded to the State Bar. *(See Bus. and Prof. Code, §6126, subd. (c).)
It’s too bad the minutes aren’t more informative about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Omholt’s voluntary resignation from the California bar. Readers familiar with the details are welcome to illuminate matters.
UPDATE: Omholt writes to dispute the accuracy of certain details in the Honolulu account; seeing no reason to doubt his word, we have revised the post to omit those details.