Another serial ADA complainant, another closed restaurant

by Walter Olson on March 30, 2011

Donner Lake Kitchen, a popular family-owned restaurant in rural Truckee, Calif. is closing its doors following a legal battle with attorney Scott Johnson, who is said to have filed “countless” complaints of lack of handicap accessibility at California businesses. The owner estimates that $20,000-$60,000 in repairs and upgrades would have been needed to bring the dining establishment into ADA compliance. [Sierra Sun via CJAC]

{ 10 comments }

1 Jerry Vandesic 03.30.11 at 8:25 pm

It appears that the reason the restaurant closed was that it wasn’t able to come to an agreement with the landlord over any required renovations required by ADA. While Johnson (the attorney) seems like a real dirtbag, the restaurant closed because the combination of the restaurant owners and the landlord didn’t have viable businesses that allowed them to pay for rennovations necessary to remain in compliance of the law. I personally would hold the landlord liable for any rennovations rather than the restaurant, but it doesn’t look like that is how it works.

Now, you might argue that ADA is not good law, and that handicapped customers need not be accomodated. But that’s not what the law says. Maybe your disagreement is with the law?

2 Doug 03.31.11 at 12:08 am

Rule are rules, right Jerry?

3 tyree 03.31.11 at 12:33 am

Actually, my disagreement is with the law and the lawyers who sue hard working people out of their jobs because they want to. No one forces the lawyers to sue, the lawyers hurt people because they like hurting people. The law itself was written to enrich lawyers at the expense of the poor. If a building was constructed before the ADA was passed the design team had to comply only with existing codes and ordinances. At the very least, a property owner should be able to respond to the greedy lawyer with proof that the problem had been fixed. It is not necessary to buy another BMW for the lawyer to help the handicapped. The law was written by lawyers to enrich lawyers. In my hometown a family owned restaurant owner had to sell his wife’s jewelry to enrich a greedy lawyer who sued him under the ADA. None of his handicapped patrons complained, and they got nothing from the suit.

4 gitarcarver 03.31.11 at 12:16 pm

Jerry,

I question the use of the term “viable businesses” when a restaurant has been open for 17 years.

The fact of the matter is that if the issue is compliance with a set of ever changing rules in order to give access to handicapped people, lawyer’s fees should never be involved.

5 Gerald Sills 03.31.11 at 4:36 pm

Why don’t we change all the rules in our nation to accommodate the handicapped individuals, and genders. There could place these individuals into the areas of combat, let them fly our commercial aircraft, and be policemen and firemen. Why does the law single out just the businesses? Like others have stated, this is about lawyers and money. I might also add this: it is about getting more money for Socialist Engineering, and it is going to end badly for this nation.

6 tyree 03.31.11 at 11:39 pm

Agreed, Gitarcarver,
There are city and county building inspectors who could check to see it the building is in compliance.
Just because something is legal doesn’t make it right or moral. Slavery was legal once, and so was hanging horse thieves and child labor. Lawyers who become sewers to force a business to comply with onerous regulations because it is “legal” without thinking about the impact on the business and repulsive and wrong.
And yes the law is wrong, and the lawyers who wrote it and the politicians who voted for it should be disbarred, forever.

7 Bill Alexander 04.01.11 at 6:08 am

Actually, I am not convinced that hanging horse thieves was wrong or immoral in the context of the times. The rest of what you say, however, is right on.

8 William Nuesslein 04.01.11 at 7:18 am

The idea of ADA enforcement is to provide freedom to disabled folks. But the story did not say anything about how long the restaurant was in business and whether it ever had a disabled customer. According to ADA a tree falling in the forest will make a sound even when nobody is around to hear it. The huge cost of ADA provides almost no freedom at all.

9 polysatz 04.03.11 at 12:41 am

on top of stoking hatred for lawyers, it doesn’t buy disabled people any brownie points either.

10 J.T. Wenting 04.17.11 at 9:27 am

my mother uses a wheelchair, my father can’t walk well, I can’t sit in most chairs because of a back condition.
We’ve encountered restaurants and other businesses where we couldn’t enter or stay, yet we’ve never even considered sueing anyone (except the doctor whose series of mistakes caused my mother to loose her leg).
We just call in advance asking if they accommodate wheelchairs. If they don’t, we go elsewhere.

And most disabled people do the same. We don’t expect to be pampered, let alone for the entire world to revolve around our disabilities.
And most restaurants and stores with no facilities nevertheless can serve us. The few exceptions have doors that are very old and narrow, or “designer” interiors spread over several levels with no ramps between them.

Laws like the ADA are there solely to enrich lawyers over the backs of businesses. And they give the people they claim to protect a bad name.
Is it a good idea to have such laws? Yes, to protect against excesses. But they’re often overly broad and the damages end up in the wrong hands.
Companies failing to comply should maybe face a fine if they don’t take corrective action, a fine payable to the government rather than the individual filing the complaint.
That way there’s no way for greedy people and lawyers to go out and destroy businesses who’ve not closed every little loophole in a law they don’t and can’t possibly understand.

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