Five Rosemont Plaza businesses could be forced to pay thousands of dollars in damages to a prominent lawyer who says they're violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Scott Johnson, a Carmichael-based attorney well-known for filing ADA lawsuits, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against , , , and .
The lawsuit says the five Kiefer Boulevard businesses don't have fully accessible restrooms, the correct number and type of disabled parking spaces and accessible entrances. It also says the counter and pizza buffet in Straw Hat are not at the correct height.
"You go into this restaurant to eat and I need to use the restroom–I can't use it," Johnson said by phone. "It's extremely frustrating."
When this lawsuit was mentioned over the weekend on the Rosemont Neighborhood Watch Facebook group, users called it a "scam" and derided Johnson for filing it.
Johnson, who is quadriplegic and relies on a service dog, said if it were up to him, ADA laws would be enforced by an outside body and there wouldn't be any lawsuits.
"The number of lawsuits I like to use is zero," he said. "If somebody contacts me and says, 'We cant afford to fix this right now,' I can work with them and develop a plan. Let's fix the things you can fix now and make a long term plan for the things that are in place."
Johnson's lawsuit states he sent letters both to Straw Hat Pizza and the Los Altos-based owners of Rosemont Plaza, asking them to fix the accessibility issues, but never heard back.
Straw Hat Pizza owner Masoud Soudani, who is named in the lawsuit, could not be reached at the time of this posting. A call to Vintage Realty, which owns the plaza, has not yet been returned.
Johnson's lawsuit asks for the minimum amount of damages that can be given in ADA lawsuits: $4,000 per violation. He said he doesn't want to create a hardship on any business owner, and only asks for improvements that are "readily achievable."
"If it's going to put them out of business, they don't have to do it," he said. "That's why I've never put anybody out of business."
Johnson said he also wished property owners could be held accountable for improvements, because often neither the property owner nor the business owners wants to make the needed upgrades.
"It'd be nice if congress said property owners are responsible, period," Johnson said. "Then you've got the people with the wherewithal to fix the properties."
He said business owners shouldn't stay in a location where they have a landlord who isn't helpful.
"If you're a business operator and you've got a lousy landlord who's not willing to work with you, hey, relocate to an accessible location."
Johnson said he doesn't keep track of how many lawsuits he files, but on the same day he sued the Rosemont businesses, he also filed suits against a bank and restaurant in Gold River, an electronics store in south Sacramento, a Fairfield veterinarian and a Payless Shoe Source in Vacaville.
Check back for more information as it becomes available.