Ruling in ADA Case Is Victory for Small Firms

A federal court last week ruled in favor of small business owners when it found that a case filed against a Southern California restaurant was without merit.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the Mandarin Touch Restaurant, determining that the plaintiff and his attorney were taking up too much of the court's time by filing hundreds of claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and making an easy target of small businesses.

The California Retailers Association, California Grocers Association, National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation and others filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case urging the 9th circuit to establish a precedent to discourage plaintiffs from abusing the ADA at the expense of small business owners.

Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty Corp. "is an extremely important win for small-business owners, said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB's Legal Foundation. "The 9th circuit's resounding opinion in favor of Mandarin Touch Restaurant sends a crystal-clear message to potential ADA serial plaintiffs and their lawyers that says the court will not allow plaintiffs to pursue baseless ADA claims, which are extremely burdensome to both the court and small-business owners."

In the case before the court, Jarek Molski of Woodland Hills, Calif., filed a suit against Mandarin Touch of Solvang. Similar to his other 400-plus ADA complaints against small businesses, Molski said he visited the restaurant once, found the restroom too narrow and injured his hand in the exterior restroom door.

The defendant challenged Molski's standing to bring suit. The district court ruled in favor of the restaurant, and prohibited Molski from filing similar suits in the Central District of California without getting prior court approval. Molski appealed that decision to the 9th Circuit, which ruled in the case last week.

By Sharon McLoone |  September 6, 2007; 8:06 AM ET Regulation Legislation
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