The Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed sanctions against a hearing impaired plaintiff and his attorney, who had filed 131 lawsuits in a five-year period, alleging violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The plaintiff appealed the district court’s imposition of sanctions, including dismissal of two pending lawsuits. The lawsuits were filed against gas station owners claiming that the gas stations failed to provide closed captioning or similar capabilities that would allow the plaintiff to comprehend the television media features at the gasoline pumps. After investigation including an evidentiary hearing, the district court found that the main purpose of these lawsuits, as well as 26 identical lawsuits filed against different gas stations, was to collect payments in an unethical fee-sharing agreement between the plaintiff and the lawyer who represented him.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s imposition of sanctions, including dismissal of the two cases before it. In addition, the plaintiff and the lawyer representing him are enjoined from filing any future ADA complaints without first obtaining written permission from the court, and both must surrender any profits from the previous 26 gas pump cases they had filed. Finally, the plaintiff must pay a $6,000 penalty to Disability Independence Group and complete 50 hours of community service annually for three years.