Hey California, can you be a little more like Arizona? Let's Curb ADA Drive-By Cases!

We have previously written about the hotel pool-lift cases being filed all across the state of California by Arizona attorney Peter K. Strojnik  Peter K. Strojnik’s father (who is also named Peter Strojnik) is also an ADA “drive-by” attorney, though he practices only in Arizona.  It appears father and son are two peas in a pod! 

Senior Strojnik, along with his associates, David Ritzenthaler and Fabian Zazuleta, blanketed the state of Arizona with over 1,700 “drive-by” lawsuits alleging minor ADA accessibility violations at businesses their clients never visited or intended to visit.  And they threatened 8,000 more!  In an unusual, but very welcome move to the business community, the Arizona Attorney General sought, and received, a dismissal of all 1,700 cases.  Moreover, the three attorneys involved were ordered to seek advance court permission before they filed any more disability access cases. The judge that dismissed all of the cases is reviewing many requests from the businesses to recover for attorney fees they expended fighting the Strojnik/Ritzenthaler/Zazuleta cases.[1]

From reading the Arizona Attorney General’s motion to sanction the three attorneys involved, it appears that the senior Strojnik's tactics are similar to the ones the junior Strojnik employs in California. The complaints filed are boiler-plate, identical, cut-and-paste complaints that would take virtually no time to prepare, yet seek recovery of attorney fees of at least $5,000 per case.  This is even though he had agreed to do the work for his client without ever taking a fee, and though the creation of the complaint would have taken only minutes to cut-and-paste, hardly a task worth $5,000 to even the most expensive attorneys in the jurisdiction.  

The Arizona operation of the senior Strojnik reportedly uses a robo-signing operation.  Complaints get filed without any of the attorneys actually reviewing them. In light of this, say the motions, Plaintiff’s counsel knows the $5,000 attorney fees’ claim in the complaints are false, but leaves it in because the higher figure helps them extract higher out-of-court settlements from small business owners who do not realize that the figure is unrecoverable and completely made up, perpetuating a fraud on the court and on the business owners who got the complaints and wound up negotiating with Mr. Strojnik or his associates on the phone. “Plaintiffs and counsel lied to [the business owners] and this Court by bringing false claims for fees and damages, and hundreds of defendants succumbed to the pressure of such prospective liability.”[2]  

The average settlements in Arizona were reportedly about $3,900, a figure that would have netted Mr. Strojnik over $30 million dollars if had been permitted to collect from the 8,000 cases he planned to file in the future. 

The business community in California would welcome our attorney general, Xavier Becerra, to exhibit the boldness of his counterpart in Arizona and take action to stop the “drive-by lawsuit” abuse of the legal system.  The ADA lawsuits and tactics of the junior Strojnik here in California appear to be similar to ones of his father.  After filing suit, the junior Strojnik reportedly intimidates business owners during settlement talks, telling them that they have no defenses.  We hope more business owners will seek legal assistance and learn what defenses they may have, despite the attorney’s rhetoric. 

Sources:

Motions filed in Superior Court of the State of Arizona in and for the County of Maricopa, Case Number: CV2016-090506 (Consol.)

http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/investigations/advocacy-groups-attorney-made-several-legal-mistakes-under-state-bar-investigation

http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/573108/court+procedure/Arizona+Judge+Finds+Standing+Is+A+Must+For+Serial+ADA+Plaintiff+Dismisses+More+Than+1100+Cases

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/arizona_ag_asks_for_mass_dismissal_of_multiple_ada_cases_calls_lawyers_tact

http://www.abc15.com/news/local-news/investigations/cash-for-compliance-advocacy-groups-answers-dont-add-up-about-serial-ada-lawsuits

 

 




[1] Motions for Rule 11 Sanctions and Non-Rule-11 Sanctions filed in Superior Court of the State of Arizona in and for the County of Maricopa, Case Number: CV2016-090506 (Consol.)

 

[2] Motion for Rule 11 Sanctions at page 7.