Lawyer Targeting 23rd Street Merchants for ADA Violations

The Veterans Center at 23rd Street. Photo by Mike Kinney.

An attorney is targeting businesses on 23rd Street for violations of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), in many cases threatening litigation if they don’t pay the lawyer, according to the Richmond City Manager’s Office.

Many of the merchants have made payments to the attorney, City Manager Carlos Martinez said in his weekly newsletter.

The actions by the attorney, which occur across the U.S., are commonly viewed as a form of legal extortion.

In response, merchants along with Darlene Drapkin, founder of Urban Transformation, a nonprofit helping to revitalize the 23rd Street merchants corridor, organized a meeting for Thursday, June 6, where Assistant City Attorney and ADA Coordinator Bruce Soublet, Sr. presented opportunities to merchants, available through the City and funded by business license fees, to have their businesses inspected by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).

The CASp “who would provide them with a report informing them of what needs to be done to bring their property into compliance,” the City Manager’s newsletter states.

Recent amendments to California law, such as inspection and certification, can offer merchants some protection from attorneys aiming to extract payments from small businesses via ADA compliance issues, the city said.

Thursday’s meeting took place at Veterans Hall  at 968 23rd St.

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