Representatives of the Hollywood, Fla.-based law firm of Schwartz Zweben & Associates have played a substantial role behind the scenes in helping organize, promote and support the Ms. Wheelchair America pageant and some of its state affiliates. And lawyers with the firm have filed more than 200 lawsuits in at least seven states and the District of Columbia on behalf of at least 13 pageant participants, “including state and national titleholders, state coordinators and pageant judges”.
Now the Birmingham, Ala. News follows up on the case of Colleen Macort, Ms. Wheelchair Florida 2002, who has filed more than 73 disabled-accessibility actions in Alabama “but has never spent a day in court because of settlements”. Local law provides that Macort cannot be compensated for filing the lawsuits, but the Wisconsin paper reported that the firm of Schwartz Zweben had engaged her as a consultant on other cases. The reporter is kind enough to quote me and mention this site (Liz Ellaby, “Bessemer woman crusades to address disability act violations, provoking critics”, Birmingham News, Jul. 3).
In the state of Washington, Ms. Wheelchair Washington 2005, Michelle Beardshear, has teamed up with the Florida firm to file 15 lawsuits, of which twelve have been settled, against enterprises in Clark County (Kathie Durbin, “Advocate for disabled not hesitant to sue for access”, The Columbian, May 27 courtesy Chamber ILR). And in March, Schwartz Zweben & Slingbaum (as it is now called) swooped down to sue twelve defendants in the Tucson area, including a number of well-known restaurants, alleging ADA violations. (Josh Brodesky, “12 Tucson businesses facing suits alleging Disabilities Act problems”, Arizona Daily Star, Mar. 28).