Sanctions levied against plaintiffs for filing frivolous disability rights lawsuits
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Johnson, Dinn v. Caraf Oil upheld a district court ruling that fined both the attorney and the plaintiff in a disability lawsuit.
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Dinin is an attorney, Johnson is the d/Deaf plaintiff. Together, they filed 26 ADA cases in the Southern District of Florida, all against gas station owners located throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties over the lack of captions at gas station pumps that played video.
The court of appeals found that the “overriding purpose of these disability lawsuits was to collect payments in an unethical fee-sharing arrangement between the litigant and the lawyer who represented him.”
Specifically the court found that:
- There were frivolous claims;
- That the plaintiff and his attorney knowingly misrepresenting the time they counted as billable, and;
- That both the plaintiff and his attorney made misrepresentations to the court.
As a result, the District Court imposed sanctions against Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dinin, including monetary penalties, community service, and an injunction prohibiting them from filing future ADA claims without approval. On appeal, the verdict against Mr. Johnson (the d/Deaf plaintiff) was upheld, and it was determined that Mr. Dinin (the attorney) did not have standing to appeal.
What are the differences between this case and 4000+ accessibility cases that will be filed in 2021?
Difference #1: Administrative Remedies
In Florida, before filing litigation, those claiming ADA violations must first exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA). The FCRA requires that plaintiffs file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human…