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Jan-14-2011

KGO interviews ADA litigator; Pot de Pho is latest casualty among dozens being sued as recently as this week. Where is Eric Mar?

Hats off to KGO Radio’s Ronn Owens who did his best to confront one of the most loathed lawyers in San Francisco on his show yesterday, Thomas Frankovich.

Owens lives in the Richmond District and was concerned after seeing stories here on the blog and in the Richmond Review about businesses closing due to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits being brought against them. Frankovich is the attorney behind a slew of ADA lawsuits in the city.

Many of the businesses being sued are right here in the Richmond District. We’ve already seen two close as a result – “Big Heart” Video Cafe on Geary and Thidwick Books on Clement Street.

The latest to close is Pot de Pho Noodle House at 3300 Geary after being hit with an ADA lawsuit.

And it’s safe to say there’s no end in sight – a lawsuit against Taishan Cafe on Clement was just filed THREE days ago (see list below).

Owens spoke with callers during the show who were, to say the least, vehement in their dislike for Frankovich, calling him a charlatan and a parasite. You could tell Frankovich had heard it all before; he was hardly bothered by the disdain for his practices. Listen to Frankovich being interviewed on Ronn Owen’s show:

One of Frankovich’s partners in these lawsuits is Craig Yates, who is the disabled plaintiff in the cases (Yates also partners with other lawyers to file suits). Yates identifies a business that is not in compliance, and Frankovich files suit. It could be a business that has a 4 inch step at their threshold that prevents a wheelchair from entering, or a restaurant that does not have accessible restrooms.

A quick search of dockets under Craig Yates on justia.com yields 183 results. Not all of them belong to THIS Craig Yates, but there are dozens of ADA lawsuits with him as plaintiff.

Let’s have a look at the suits just here in the Richmond District with Yates as the plaintiff; I’m sure a few of your favorite neighborhood spots are on the list:

    1) Taishan Cafe, 1125 Clement Street | 1/11/2011 (info)
    2) Building on southwest corner of Clement & Arguello including Village Pizzeria, Thidwick Books (CLOSED), Period George | 11/29/2010 (Yee Mei Cheung & Family et al) info)
    3) Mayflower Seafood Restaurant, 6255 Geary Blvd | 10/26/2010 (info)
    4) Prime Rib Shabu, 308 5th Avenue | 9/15/2010 (info)
    5) Gordo’s Taqueria #1, 2252 Clement Street |6/4/2010 (info)
    6) Le Soleil Vietnamese Restaurant, 133 Clement Street | 5/19/2010 (info)
    7) Pho Clement Restaurant, 239 Clement Street | 4/2/2010 (info)
    8 ) Pot de Pho Noodle House, 3300 Geary – CLOSED | 2/5/2010 (info)
    9) Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine, 5020 Geary | 1/26/2010 (info)
    10) Clement Street Restaurants, Inc., 621 Clement | 8/27/2009 (Case dismissed 10/25/2010; info)
    11) Superior Palace Seafood Restaurant, 357 25th Avenue | 7/27/2009 (info)
    12) Clementine Restaurant, 126 Clement Street | 7/1/2009 (info)
    13) Thai Me Up – NOW CLOSED | 10/1/2008 (info)
    14) Fune Ya Japanese restaurant, 354 Clement Street | 9/24/2008 (info)
    15) Zephyr Cafe, 3643 Balboa Street | 5/2/2008 (info)
    16) King of Thai Noodle House #2, 346 Clement Street | 4/8/2008 (info)

16 lawsuits against businesses in the Richmond District alone. And those are just the ones I recognized in the justia.com search results; there are probably others buried under LLC business names.

Unless Yates is trying to kickstart a career as San Francisco’s premiere restaurant critic, I think it’s clear that he and his lawyers are targeting any businesses that have an ADA violation for a chance at some quick cash. Once a letter is delivered to the business owner alerting them of the violations, some businesses will choose to settle with the disabled complaintant to make the problem go away.

Other businesses avoid settling but have to close their doors for good because neither they, nor their landlords, can afford the upgrades. In the case of Thidwick Books, the owner believed she would lose too much inventory to be financially viable if she made the changes necessary to create room for a wheelchair to maneuver in the store (SF Chronicle).

Yates also seems to like to target ethnic restaurants, most likely because the owners are less versed with the ADA laws and legal system; English may not even be their first language. As KGO’s Ronn Owens points out in his interview, many “mom and pop” small businesses don’t even have lawyers.

During the interview, Owens read an email from one listener in the inner Sunset who said that he’d seen too many of his favorite restaurants close due to “parasite lawyers like your guest”.

Frankovich’s response? “I know of none that have gone out of business because of an ADA lawsuit.” Don’t you love that? That’s lawyer speak for go ahead and try to prove that a lawsuit is what closed down the Video Cafe and Pot de Pho Noodle House.

Yates and his attorneys have filed many more ADA lawsuits against businesses in other parts of San Francisco, even the venerable Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor on Hyde and Union. It looks like he’s been at it since 2007. According to a recent SF Chronicle article, Yates has hired East Bay attorney Tim Thimesch to handle his cases in the Richmond District.

After hearing Frankovich interviewed on KGO, one Clement Street merchant had this to say about him: “No doubt that this attorney was great at public speaking and still dodged questions, but it doesn’t take away the fact that he is greedy.”

I have not had a chance to reach out to any of the businesses listed in this article, so I don’t know what plans they have for handling the lawsuits. But it’s highly likely that many of them will go out of business given the trend we’ve seen in the last few months.

So, what’s being done to help our small businesses weather the storm of lawsuits?

Merchant associations are organizing in an effort to educate their members about how to achieve and maintain ADA compliance and if they are sued, how to handle it. Earlier this month, the Noe Valley Merchants Association organized a meeting with the city’s Small Business office.

On Thursday, the city announced an upcoming campaign to educate small business owners about about their legal rights and responsibilities with regards to ADA compliance:

At a news conference in an Outer Sunset cafe, Supervisor Carmen Chu was joined by several other supervisors, city officials, disability rights advocates and small business commissioners. Chu said the city was working to devise several methods for reaching business owners. They might include merchant-registration paperwork, payroll tax mailings and building and construction permits.

She also said that small-business loans would be available for disability access renovations through the Opportunity Fund, a local microlender, which has pledged $1 million for businesses needing assistance. (SF Chronicle).

It’s a start, but it seems the city, e.g. the Board of Supervisors needs to do more to protect the small businesses from these lawyers and their disabled plaintiffs who are out to make a quick buck, empty storefronts and destroyed businesses be damned.

Supervisor Mar, this seems like a GREAT issue for you to spearhead as a representative for so many small businesses in your district. What are you waiting for?

Sarah B.

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12:13 am | Posted under Business | 66 comments
  1. Scott said (01/14/11; 12:32 am):

    Found an article on this swine – mentions his own law office is not ADA compliant, somebody should sue HIM! http://www.sfweekly.com/2007-07-25/news/wheelchairs-of-fortune/full

    Keep in mind it is also this greedy Yates character who is exploiting his own disability to make money by putting hard working people out of business. May you reap what you sow, and may karma have its way with you. Scumbags.

  2. MARsupial said (01/14/11; 1:06 am):

    MAR needs to get on this asap! Didn’t he, Chu, and Campos, all old-guard supes, have a powwow Thursday morning at iCafe? If so, MAR should tell us the results of that convergence and what he plans to do for D1 merchants. Sixteen venues targeted and nothing is being done. On any given day on Clement there very likely will not be one disabled person, and how many actually patronize or want to patronize the targeted venues? When these first 16 close up, then another 16, ad infinitum, the Richmond District will become blight, the new ghetto. Has anybody heard of Ed Lee? He’s another dude that needs to wake up.

    “Coffee with Eric
    Please join me and other Richmond residents for coffee on Friday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., at the Cafe Muse, 785 Eighth Ave., to share what’s on your mind.”

  3. sfgater said (01/14/11; 1:36 am):

    Look at this comment from the SF Gate story.

    “I finished a rather expensive wheel chair lift at my business 3 months ago. I can’t wait for someone to use it.”

  4. David H said (01/14/11; 8:36 am):

    Kudos to Ron Owens for taking on this issue. Where is Mar? MISSING IN ACTION AGAIN! Small business is the lifeblood of our neighborhood. Vacant storefronts mean nuisance crimes and more importantly someone’s family, friend or neighbor is not able to make an honest living.

    Sheesh Eric it does not take rocket science.
    1. Get the city attorney to take a look at this issue and possibly work with merchants via a drop in advice or hotline.
    2. Prepare a pamphlet outlining do’s and don’ts, a simple survery and distribute it- like quickly
    3. Facilitate a community meeting to share information. WHAT is up with having to go to NOE VALLEY to go to a community meeting?
    4. Make some calls including to the people we recently sent to the state government
    5. CONTACT AND BRING IN TO THE LOOP DISABLED GROUPS – These lawsuits are hurting them, they have the actual experience to be able to educate and work with merchants and lawmakers to find solutions
    Crikey Eric, get off the happy meals and on this will ya’?

  5. shake-and-bake said (01/14/11; 8:44 am):

    Mar is too busy dealing with the McDonalds on Bayshore Blvd. to help the residents of his own district.

  6. EricP said (01/14/11; 9:03 am):

    I think Mar (or his spokesman) said that along with the annual SF busines licensing/tax notices, he would also include a nice shiny brochure describing some of the general ADA requirements. The brochure won’t be business or location specific or go into any of the thousands of ADA nuiances, however.

    Are you saying that isn’t enough?

  7. Caitlin said (01/14/11; 9:51 am):

    I wonder if there would be a loophole for any of these businesses in the California State Historic Building Code. Many of these businesses are located in historic buildings and the code gives special caveats for things like accessibility upgrades, etc. that might be harmful to historic fabric. I am an architectural historian, but not an expert on the Code. As far as I know though, it does override ADA requirements in some cases. Might be something for the business owners and other proponents to look into…

  8. David H said (01/14/11; 10:08 am):

    Why are we waiting? YES a lot more needs to be done to help save neighborhood small businesses

  9. fedup said (01/14/11; 10:12 am):

    Chances are Eric Mar can’t do much. If people want to change the law, and it’s under federal jurisdiction since those cases are filed in federal court, they have to pester Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Nancey Pelosi etc to have the law amended so these people do not reap a profit from the ADA cases.

    The way ADA is written is seriously flawed. They have allowed these vultures to prey on the small business owner. Democrats, how about doing something about this?

  10. MARsupial said (01/14/11; 10:40 am):

    I think MAR is the best access we commoners have to a politician who can make or induce change. Granted, these are federal laws, but Feinstein, Boxer, and Pelosi will not be having coffee with neighborhood peons. MAR will, and he has better access to federal lawmakers than just another restless resident. As the blogger says, “a GREAT issue for you (MAR) to spearhead.”

    “Coffee with Eric
    Please join me and other Richmond residents for coffee on Friday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. – 11 a.m., at the Cafe Muse, 785 Eighth Ave., to share what’s on your mind.”

  11. Tweets that mention KGO interviews ADA litigator; Pot de Pho is latest casualty among dozens being sued as recently as this week. Where is Eric Mar? | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) -- Topsy.com said (01/14/11; 11:06 am):

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Brooks and Richmond SF Blog. Richmond SF Blog said: ADA update: KGO interviews litigator, Pot de Pho closes down, 16 suits filed and no sign of Supervisor Eric Mar. http://bit.ly/eFlq6c […]

  12. fedup said (01/14/11; 11:14 am):

    Marsupial=

    Well considering Dianne went out of her way to stay the Illegal Washington High Grad/City College student’s deportation, it shows that commoners can reach out to the ladies of Congress. Mar had nothing to do with that deportation issue and I doubt he or the other Stupidvisors have a lifeline to Congress.

    If people create a big enough stink via the press Dianne et al will be forced to do something.

    Having “coffee” with Eric Mar will get you nothing but uh huh uh huh. I understand your point. Here’s a shiny city pamphlet.

  13. Jonathan said (01/14/11; 11:33 am):

    I’m glad that Eric Mar is spearheading the issues of toys in happy meals.

    http://richmondsfblog.com/?s=daily+show

    I’ve lost confidence in him.

  14. M said (01/14/11; 11:53 am):

    forwarded him this website link, and this is where I submit the info from:

    http://ericmar.com/

    I think if we get more people to send him concerns, he would have to reply??

  15. saschaben said (01/14/11; 12:00 pm):

    @Jonathan: lost confidence? I’m bemused that you had any in the first place.

    Two comments. First, ADA allows for some “reasonable accommodation” on most small issues, and while I’m not familiar with the specifics of each filing, I’d bet that Yates has not acted in good faith with each of these business owners to find reasonable accommodation prior to filing suit. In this respect, they are predatory suits (looking for settlement rather than action) and a local attorney with a decent streak could possibly help to represent these businesses (volunteers for pro bono, anyone?) This is an area where supervisor Mar could show some real assistance.

    Second, since Frankovich’s office is also not ADA compliant, why the hell isn’t anyone filing suit against him on the same lines? He apparently provides “reasonable accommodation” by meeting disabled clients offsite, but that in itself implies that the businesses he pursues could do similar, and yet….again, any legal eagle volunteers in the neighborhood willing to work with the government reps, and be a little proactive?

  16. M said (01/14/11; 12:12 pm):

    It’s nice to hear that you are equally passionate about keeping small businesses alive in SF…I hope he’ll come to this link and read all your concerns and voices too! If not, would you please also copy and paste what you wrote and send to his office?

  17. SM said (01/14/11; 12:14 pm):

    Even More. From The Secretary of State’s website: Note Suspended.

    Entity Name: THOMAS E. FRANKOVICH, A PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION
    Entity Number: C1159672
    Date Filed: 10/08/1982
    Status: SUSPENDED
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: 2806 VAN NESS AVE
    Entity City, State, Zip: SAN FRANCISCO CA 94109
    Agent for Service of Process: THOMAS E FRANKOVICH
    Agent Address: 2806 VAN NESS AVE
    Agent City, State, Zip: SAN FRANCISCO CA 94109

    His website using the same name: http://www.disabilitieslaw.com/

  18. M said (01/14/11; 1:07 pm):

    Everyone – I also submitted my concern to Diane Feinstein, can you please submit yours too? You can submit them on her website…this would help so much…

    http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.EmailMe

  19. Administrator said (01/14/11; 2:57 pm):

    Thanks, M. I sent an email to Feinstein as well.

    Sarah B.

  20. SFBear said (01/14/11; 4:53 pm):

    IMHO Federal ADA is not the issue here. California Unruh Act is. So Leland Yee, Mark Leno and Fiona Ma would be the people to appeal to. It’s not going to be easy to change their minds – Yee and Leno recently voted to make Unruh even harsher.
    Eric Mar is useless. What else is new?
    Educating business owners is unlikely to make a significant difference. ADA regulations are complex and a trained eye can always find things not up to the code. Somebody mentioned a business owner (a disabled person himself) who got sued because his shop had a slightly smaller disabled access sign…

  21. Jeremy said (01/14/11; 5:51 pm):

    I’ve thought about actually putting up a large sign on the door at the Video Cafe indicating where people can go to voice their disapproval of these tactics, and how best to confront this lawyer. I’m sure how much good it will do. That was one of my favorite places int he city and I am very sad it closed down because of this.

  22. Susan said (01/14/11; 6:31 pm):

    Time to organize! Call Mar’s office and ask for a meeting with him; go to his coffee hour; speak out at the next supe’s meeting; write letters to the editors of the the Chron, Examiner, and neighborhood papers; hold a press conference on the steps of City Hall demanding our leaders take action against these frivolous lawsuits; try to get support from our local state legislators; file complaints with the Office of the State Bar Disciplinary Committee. This outrageous conduct must stop.

  23. David H said (01/14/11; 8:04 pm):

    @Susan and others all good suggestions. Add to them, appearing before the small business commission.

  24. Mark said (01/15/11; 2:25 am):

    I hope the best for these business.

    I love Tai Shan Cafe, nice people and very comforting food

  25. Grt said (01/15/11; 9:02 am):

    Mar is too wrapped up in his happy meal b.s.

  26. bill said (01/15/11; 11:40 am):

    I found over 120+ ADA lawsuits filed by this same group (Craig Yates, Les Jankey, Irma Ramirez, Nicole Moss) that have been filed recently in the SF Bay area. These folks are definitely targeting mom and pop and ethnic businesses.
    These include

    Taqueria Cancun
    Taqueria San Jose
    Little Bangkok
    Milanos Pizza
    Swensons Ice Cream
    Sushi Groove
    Fune Ya Japanese
    Giogios Pizza
    Lotus Cuisine of India
    Riccardo’s Ristorante & Pizzeria
    Pizza Pino
    Elsy’s Taqueria
    Yancy’s Saloon
    King of Pad Thai
    All Star Doughnuts
    Toasties
    Pizza Pino
    Circa
    Rockit Room
    Dirty Trix Saloon
    Cafe Gratitude
    Thai Me Up
    Tequila Grill
    Paragon Streakhouse
    Red Jack’s Saloon
    Martha’s Old Mexico in Sebastapol
    Foster Freeze in Santa Rosa, Berkeley and Sebastapol
    Phyllis’s Giant Burger
    The Cheese Steak Shop
    Celia’s Restaurant
    The Coffee Roastery
    Royal Grounds
    Ambrosia Pizza
    Escape from New York Pizza
    Mr. Pizza Man
    Gordos Taqueria
    Buckeye Roadhouse
    Five Happiness Restaurant

  27. M said (01/15/11; 11:42 am):

    The owner from Chile Lindo already protested down at the Missions, so this has been on the media for quite some time. I’m not sure Mission’s supervisor is dealing with this, but seems that he is proactive than Mar?

    If you google keywords Craig Yates, Chile Lindo, and Frankovich….it will have more info.

  28. M said (01/15/11; 11:54 am):

    It’s an utter disgrace!

    The client that Frankovich used to represent – Jared Molski, he filed over 500+ ADA lawsuits to the point where he was banned from filing further ADA lawsuits in LA. He was a law student that passed the bar, but never practiced law. So he did not have a full time job, all he did was suing businesses. It says settling a small case, he pocketed 4k out a 20k lawsuit, and Frankovich pocketed the rest.

    In his interview, Frankovich implied that this Molski person was an activist, BS! How can he live with all these money that was extorted from hard working business owners. This is really the time that you would wish that Hell would really exist, if you are agnostic or atheist.

  29. Susan said (01/15/11; 8:35 pm):

    Does anyone know how to create an online petition that can be circulated for signatures demanding Supervisor Mar and, perhaps, Ma and Yee, do everything possible to to put an end to these frivolous lawsuits that are killing small businesses in San Francisco? Let’s start taking some action!

  30. David H said (01/16/11; 12:23 pm):

    @susan- here you go. Please post comment when you get the petition up and I will certainly sign.

    http://www.petitiononline.com/create_petition.html

  31. Lara said (01/17/11; 12:28 am):

    Just sent a message to Mar with a link to this blog entry. I am planning on attending the event at Cafe Muse on Friday (close to my apartment) and will try to ask him a pointed question about the number of businesses in the area that are targeted. Any one coming with me?

  32. LW said (01/17/11; 1:06 pm):

    I’m not sure why you keep saying that Pot de Pho is the “latest casualty”. It closed in September.

  33. Stephoto said (01/18/11; 8:26 am):

    Apparently, one way small businesses can get around being ADA compliant is by not being a “public” business. Like Gary on Geary, who only opens his doors for appointments and indicates as much on a sign in the window, businesses can go “private.”

    Now, it would be a sad day if all these small shops and restaurants did this, but perhaps there is something there in terms of a protest? Because if they did do this, the issue would get much more visibility and eventually customers would start really coming out in droves to protest the frivolous lawsuits that caused all this. Any ideas? It seems like protesting this issue needs an angle of some sort, not just “too many lawsuits.”

  34. Bill said (01/18/11; 10:29 am):

    I am surprised that no one has sued / moved to find these people as “Vexatious litigation / litigants”.

    Ronn Owens mentioned at the end of his show that this lawyer was found to be a “vexatious litigant” in the past, and was barred from filing new lawsuits for a period of time.

    I bet – since then – this guy has developed methods for trying to avoid this. Maybe that is why he goes after “ethnic” businesses, who may not know our laws?

    I hope someone in your group reads this.

  35. MarStaff said (01/18/11; 11:23 am):

    Last week, Supervisor Mar joined several Supervisors at a press conference to share information on how to deal with potential lawsuits. Tax credits and business loans are available to help reduce the cost of barriers. An informational packet sent to every San Francisco business in the near-future containing this information. The packet will contain materials in English, Chinese, & Spanish. Those who may need help in Russian should contact our office at 415-554-7410. Although the laws that govern ADA compliance are State and Federal laws, our office is looking into what legislative powers the City may have to provide some relief for our business owners. For more information, please contact our office at Eric.L.Mar@sfgov.org. There are also pamphlets posted online through the Small Business Assistance Center http://www.sfgsa.org/index.aspx?page=3805

    Mar Staff

  36. Administrator said (01/18/11; 11:52 am):

    @MarStaff – Thanks for leaving a comment. If you have future updates or more information to share, feel free to also email me using the Contact Us form here on the site.

    Sarah B.

  37. Owen said (01/18/11; 12:50 pm):

    Thanks, Supervisor Mar, for your hard work on this issue. The first time that I heard about this was in your newsletter.

  38. SFJD said (01/18/11; 1:19 pm):

    It’s just disgusting that a well-intentioned law like the ADA is being abused like this. I’m sure if they could see how its original purpose has been perverted, the drafters of the legislation would have done a few things differently.

  39. Mort said (01/18/11; 2:26 pm):

    Eric Mar, along with Supervisors Chiu, Chu and Campos a had a press conference on January 13, the day before this blog was posted, announcing their outreach efforts to small businesses affected by these lawsuits. We should give them credit for being pro-active.

  40. Stephoto said (01/18/11; 2:29 pm):

    Great political initiative – is there a way to monitor/follow up on the impact of this campaign?

  41. Administrator said (01/18/11; 2:29 pm):

    @Mort – the press conference is referenced towards the end of the blog post (“On Thursday, the city announced an upcoming campaign…”) however Supervisor Mar was not mentioned in the SFGate article as being in attendance. Supervisor Mar finally left a comment today in the post confirming he was in attendance.

    Sarah B.

  42. Mort said (01/18/11; 3:29 pm):

    @Sarah: Why does your headline say “Where is Eric Mar?” The tone of your post implies that he’s MIA. You reference Supervisor Chu at the press conference but not Supervisor Mar.

    Here is a link to Eric Mar speaking at a press conference on the issue the day before your post:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYc0cH5-xiM

    Perhaps it would have been better if you had contacted his office first to learn of his efforts on this issue, before blogging “What are you waiting for.”

  43. David H said (01/18/11; 5:37 pm):

    Proactive about what- holding a press conference? This has been going on for some time, I would hardly call a press conference and pamphlet proactive. l would not characterize it as hard work either. STILL has not called for a town hall meeting to bring the neighborhood up to date and solicit help and feedback. STILL has not called for a board hearing to take testimony. STILL has not appeared before small business commission, yata yata. Get on it Eric will ya? Forget the press conference there are many great suggestions just in these comments. Yes what are you waiting for Eric?

  44. M said (01/18/11; 5:37 pm):

    @Mort, Sarah does have a point here because I’m a small business owner in the Inner Richmond district my neighbors and I have not heard from any personel from the Mar’s office about this issue. The only way I get some updates is from this blog. You would think we would’ve gotten a simple handout already about this issue since we are the ones that are hurting from this ADA nonsense. Mind you, I have Googled and Googled sources that would help us, even read the ADA guideline myself on the gov’s website. But what we need is some sort of action plan from him to ensure that the government agency is in fact working on to change ADA law to prevent BS lawsuits like this?

    A pretty flyer is informative, but not enough to protect business owners. All the SF buildings are built (especially in the Inner Richmond district) 100 years ago, of course they didn’t think about the ADA complications then. So why can’t they just reach the decision makers and change the law, so these buildings won’t be affected?

    If we know how all the loop holes work, we would be doing it ourselves and won’t be paying our tax dollars on politicians’ salaries, correct? Number one rule in politics is communicate effectively with your people.

    Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m attacking Mar Supervisor. Overall, it’s a relieve that he’s doing something, but please communicate it to us.

    Many thanks to Sarah for your hard work!! I would totally vote for you if you would ever consider running for politics! ;)

  45. David H said (01/18/11; 5:39 pm):

    Sarah for superviser hi hi!

  46. David H said (01/18/11; 5:40 pm):

    You are doing a wonderful service for the neighborhood without having to be beholdin’ to anyone. My thanks Sarah!

  47. SFBear said (01/18/11; 11:06 pm):

    Mort, until Eric Mar gets on the phone with our State Senators and tries to convince them to repeal the Unruh Act, he is MIA. The only road to stop these lawsuits goes through Sacramento.

    BTW, Mar is “proactive” after 2 articles in Chronicle and 3 previous posts on this blog on the topic.

  48. Amerkiwi said (01/19/11; 10:07 am):

    obviously some disabled persons with too much time on their hands, they could do better by working on environmental issues, I bet they never even eat at these places, some people have to direct their anger on others to vent- what a bunch of assholes

  49. Annie said (01/20/11; 1:23 pm):

    Amerkiwi —

    How could a disabled person eat at the places listed if he can’t get in them?

    That list of small businesses? What I saw were a LOT of places somebody in a wheelchair could not get into. How nice for them. What a nice group we are, essentially telling anyone in a wheelchair to f*** off and go away.

    Re Yates wanting money — in a lawsuit the damages usually have to be quantified; in other words, you have to try to translate them into a money amount. I would imagine Yates would rather have access to the businesses than the money, but — unlike some people on this board — I’m not a telepath, so I don’t actually know what Yates is thinking.

    How do you suggest a disabled person try to get a business to open up for access? ADA is a civil statute. No one can file a criminal complaint if a business doesn’t comply. Civil lawsuits are the only remedy available.

    Also, these places are supposed to COMPLY WITH THE LAW, people. How much effort have they made to do that? It’s sounding to me as if you all think it’s perfectly OK for a business to just make no effort at all to accommodate wheelchair users. An article in the Chron a couple of weeks ago quoted a man who used to consult with small businesses on ADA issues who said a lot of them just don’t bother to comply, they just ignore the law and hope they won’t get caught. I used to do personal injury law and a lot of the businesses we sued, on behalf of clients who had suffered disastrous injuries, KNEW they had violations of safety regulations and simply couldn’t be bothered to fix them. So i find it a little irritating that so many people here seem to think it’s perfectly fine to just not comply with a federal statute.

    As for the person who installed the chair lift, has it ever occurred to anyone that his business got a reputation as a place a disabled person couldn’t get into, so people didn’t try to go there?

    Did anyone here ever try to help someone iin a wheelchair get nto a building that’s not disabled-accessible? Maybe you should try it sometime before you tell all those wheelchair users to go fish.

  50. M said (01/20/11; 5:19 pm):

    Annie – actually, most merchants that got sued have tried to accommodate Craig Yate’s needs, even brought the food out to him. If you don’t believe me, please read it for yourself:

    http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2010/08/disabled_man_suing_chile_lindo.php

    Are you really saying that Craig Yates just doing it for the goodness of disabled people? In fact, most of them think he’s giving the rest of them a bad rep.

    If you check the facts, there was another man that was partnering with Frankovich and he sued over 500+ businesses in LA, and judged banned his license as a vexatious litigants (in these exact words). Does this ring a bell?

    Enough is enough.

  51. Jommy Cross said (01/20/11; 5:41 pm):

    Go fish.
    Why should the vast majority be penalized in order to accommodate an infinitesimal minority? (I’ve yet to see a wheelchair bound person anywhere in public). Let’s further extend the absurdities by ordering all businesses to:
    1.Provide non-specific bathrooms for the gender-bewildered,
    2. Provides surrogates to trail every customer who enters, reading all signage for the blind, and shouting in the ears of the deaf,
    3.Translate all menus into Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog, for recent arrivals who can’t be bothered learning English,
    4. Have a table bearing trinkets at the door, where the ethically challenged can shoplift and successfully escape without undergoing an esteem-destroying capture,
    5. Have special smoking areas for pot addicts who must have their “medicine”, or they’ll fatally unmellow.

  52. isa kocher said (01/21/11; 6:13 am):

    beautiful examples of sheer willful hate of disabled people. land of the free, home of the brave if and only if you are white rich and male under 50. BTW, the constitution says “WE” the people… that does include disabled people. hating us only makes YOU less human. BTW #2 I am a USA vet disabled in the service of my country, disabled so you can have the inalienable right to laugh at me and exploit others you think are inferior.

  53. bill said (01/21/11; 7:56 am):

    isa did you even read the referenced articles?

    I have seen many comments coming from disabled folks. Many of folks in your situation are just as disgusted as “WE” are. They feel the actions of these few greedy folks are hurting the entire situation. I am not sure shutting down multiple small businesses for profit helps any of “US”. It is bad for America, California and San Francisco in general. Their lead lawyer is a suspended personal injury lawyer who is very much hated in the SF community for his greed and dishonesty. And their actions clearly show they really have no interest in making things better for the disabled. In looking further into this topic i found that folks are moving to California and in particular SF where many buildings were built pre-ADA laws. They are quitting their jobs so they can move to California to sue our hard working neighbors! These folks haven’t even been to the businesses they are suing. How is this helping the situation?

    I fear for disabled people the backlash that is happening. In talking to some local business owners they now have policies to NOT provide a public bathroom (or other services) to the disabled because they are so afraid of getting sued out of business. A real risk in this situation. Perhaps they should change the law so that the majority of the money gained goes to making access and improvements and not to further enabling these folks to destroy what is left of our small local community businesses.

    I don’t think the majority of folks posting comments and in the Richmond District dislike disabled people, they just dislike the abuse and greed that is going in the disguise of making your situation better. Learn more about the topic and you will be just as disgusted with these people as “WE” are.

  54. Amerkiwi said (01/23/11; 2:35 pm):

    Annie- I meant I bet they have no intentions of ever eating there they just want to stir up trouble- a power play- ego trip- there are many people out there like that

  55. 25th & California 76 station is latest target of ADA complaints | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said (01/31/11; 4:16 am):

    […] 76 gas station is yet another in a long list of Richmond District businesses that have been hit with ADA lawsuits; several of them have gone out of business as a […]

  56. MikeC said (02/2/11; 8:49 am):

    Well Said Annie!
    It seems to me though that many others may want to do their homework before spouting off. It seems, given the electronic avenue to do so today, all too many people wish to add their 2 cents based on emotion to a matter rather than the facts.
    As an ADA consultant (on the east coast) as well as a person who uses a wheelchair I have an insider’s perspective of the situation. First and foremost, as previously mentioned, the law under which the plaintiff receives monetary compensation is the Unruh Act (A California state law, not the ADA). Therefore it would be appreciated if we could stop bashing the ADA and start putting the blame where it belongs. That being said, if a business and/or the property owner cannot afford to make the required improvements they are not required to do so under the ADA – Regulation 28 CFR Section 36 – Subpart C.
    Does the ADA have its flaws – Yes, however in a perfect world it would have been created as a statutory or regulatory law rather than a civil rights law which puts the onus on people with disabilities to create change rather than putting the burden on building officials and/or property owners who maintain leases which require the tenants to bear the burden of these modifications – on building they don’t even own. There is where the real criminality exists.

    In response to many of the other thoughts/ramblings I would ask or otherwise suggest the following;
    For those of you who have never seen anyone in a wheelchair or don’t realize that this issue affects so many more individuals than just those who use wheelchairs – I suggest you OPEN YOUR EYES before that bus runs you over!
    How long should we continue to tell our veterans with disabilities and/or their spouses – TOO BAD? Do you really think it is fair, equal or even humane to tell anyone – wait here in the rain, sleet, or snow — you can eat here in the street next to the gutter? Experience has shown me that more often than not business owners haven’t even considered how might someone actually inform them that they want to come in!
    The sad reality is that many businesses do not want to spend money no one is “forcing” them to spend – hence the need for third party intervention – the attorneys. Done voluntarily the average cost to make the average business accessible is $4,000 which is easily recouped by the $5,000 – $15,000 tax credits offered by the feds.
    If you truly want to make change I CHALLENGE YOU to try the following – if you know of a business not considered to be accessible – assume too that you CANNOT enter. How does it make you feel to know you are not welcome? Inform the owner as to why you are not coming in and then maybe, just maybe, the owner might finally realize that it’s up to them to remove their barriers to access and their customers.
    This is not NEW NEWS – had businesses or property owners put a plan into place to address the issues at anytime during the past 20 years – it would not still be an issue for them. And if they’ve opened a business during the past twenty years without considering the requirements of the two laws with respect to the property they leased – SHAME ON THEM.

    To learn more about this issue go to http://www.sfgsa.org/index.aspx?page=4207

  57. After being sued, Han Il Kwan spends thousands on accessibility upgrades | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said (03/28/11; 3:28 pm):

    […] Han Il Kwan’s case never went to court, and it’s unclear if in addition to their repair costs, there was a settlement cost for the restaurant. Dennis was unsure who the plaintiff was in the case or who their attorney was, but it sounds eerily similar to the cases we covered in a January article. […]

  58. Bill said (07/29/11; 12:48 am):

    this is what’s wrong with Washington! why would anyone in their right mind pass a law that allows lawyers to sue all these small business and get tens of thousands from them to settle. this is killing small business and Washington is wondering why our economy is at a stand still. this is an issue that is bigger than San Francisco, write your congressman!

  59. The top Richmond District Blog posts of 2011 | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said (12/29/11; 5:07 am):

    […] Most Read Stories 1. KGO interviews ADA litigator; Pot de Pho is latest casualty among dozens being sued as recently as t… 2. Video: Funnel cloud touches down at Ocean Beach this morning 3. Wreckage from an 1878 clipper […]

  60. Local links: Jean Paul likes our views!, Le Soleil reopens, food recco’s & more | Richmond District Blog of San Francisco (richmondsfblog.com) said (03/22/12; 8:15 am):

    […] for renovations, including the addition of two new ADA-compliant restrooms. They were one of the many restaurants in the neighborhood who had been sued for ADA violations. Glad to see they were able to afford the upgrades and […]

  61. Chris said (04/5/12; 2:16 pm):

    So – quick question for whomever has the knoweldge on this. What is the best way to fit these frivolous suits? I’m not against ADA – but I am against these predatory suits that are challenging buisnesses in my neighborhood. It sounds like the problem is the Unruh act – how do we voice discontent with this act? And how to we shame the local group responsible for working to destroy the fabric of the neighborhoods we live in? I’m just a resident – but it boils my blood to see good laws bent for predatory purposes.

  62. Administrator said (04/5/12; 2:20 pm):

    @Chris – Not many are hanging on this thread right now so I’ll jump in and try to give my 2 cents…

    No politicians seem to want to touch this issue other than the business side of it, e.g. educate businesses on how to better prepare. No politician wants to be seen as anti-ADA (nor do residents for that matter).

    Frankovich was banned from filing suits (for a period of time I believe) in L.A. after being declared a vexatious litigator. Seems like that is what needs to be done here for SF County, and not sure if that is the D.A. or another office? But I think it’s a difficult road to hoe, hence nobody stepping forward.

    Sarah B.

  63. Chris said (04/5/12; 2:23 pm):

    Ach – too bad. Well, I guess the best we can do then is warn potential victims if we see non-compliant spaces.

    Thanks

  64. jinger said (06/25/12; 1:33 pm):

    As a woman in a wheelchair and a long time resident of S.F. this lawyer and his client should be banned from any lawsuits.

    Instead of dividing the community, they should work with them, accept that not all Mom and Pop business’s (small business owners) can cater to the disabled. Their hands are tied, and forced to close because of it. To take away their livelihood is disabling them also.

    It is a disgrace to the community that the disabled are portrayed as heartless, When many of us do not feel this way.

    On behalf of the disabled that do not sue willy nilly, and are appalled by power hungry disabled
    that are urged on by an ADA lawyer such as Mr. Frankovich.

    On behalf of the disabled ,we would like to see these people barred from any lawsuits again. I would say frivolous lawsuits, but I believe they don;t know one from the other.

    My apologies to these small business owners. I wish there was more I could do.

  65. Biz news: Rockit Room renames; Merchants get ADA compliance help from City | Richmond SF Blog said (11/30/12; 11:40 am):

    […] Several dozen businesses here in the Richmond District have been threatened with lawsuits. Some have been able to afford the upgrade construction expenses – like Han Il Kwan – while others have had to close like the Video Cafe on Geary and 21st Avenue and Thidwick Books on Clement (which thankfully was able to re-open a year later in a new location near 12th and Clement). […]

  66. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Town Hall meeting, this Saturday | Richmond SF Blog said (02/28/13; 2:11 pm):

    […] Several dozen businesses here in the Richmond District have been threatened with ADA lawsuits. Some have been able to afford the upgrade construction expenses – like Han Il Kwan – while others have had to close like the Video Cafe on Geary and 21st Avenue and Thidwick Books on Clement (which thankfully was able to re-open a year later in a new location near 12th and Clement). […]

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