Small business owners in Minnesota — and maybe beyond — need to take another look at handicapped accessibility. Otherwise, they just may find themselves slapped with a lawsuit.
The Disability Support Alliance, a Minnesota-based group, are suing more than 100 local small businesses over claims related to noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act recently. In fact, small-business owners across the U.S. now face a rise in the number of lawsuits related to access for the disabled, a Wall Street Journal story reports.
For 2015, 1,939 lawsuits were filed as of past June, a 55 percent rise compared with the same period for last year, according to Washington, D.C.-based law firm Seyfarth Shaw LLP.
Fueling the trend is a recent appeals-court ruling, as well as the release of detailed federal specifications regarding handicapped accessible standards.
California, New York and Florida are among the states seeing the sharpest upswing in lawsuits over access, according to the firm. Most result in quick out-of-court settlements, often for dollar figures under $10,000.
Among those targeted by the Minnesota-based group was an 85-year-old antique shop owner. She and other local businesses in Marshall, Minn., all settled out of court. Still, based on published reports, some owners remain admittedly perplexed because lawsuits included allegations regarding seemingly measly violations.
The octogenarian antique shop owner was sued because a jukebox apparently had blocked her store’s entryway.
Shop owner Mary Lou Peterson told Fox 9 Investigators: “Here I am, just trying to stay in business.”