Judge Rules Advocate's Lawsuits Are Not "Frivolous"
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 8, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--For the second time in less than six months, a federal court has ruled that a disability rights advocate was entitled to file dozens of discrimination lawsuits.
In recent years, Ron Wilson, who has limited mobility because of a severe degenerative joint disease, has filed at least 43 lawsuits against California businesses claiming they failed to comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Last year, Pier 1 Imports and Mellon/Pier 1 Properties lodged a "vexatious litigant" complaint against Wilson and his attorney, Lynn Hubbard, who had repeatedly filed "frivolous" suits over access barriers at the company's Fairfield store. The complaint alleged that the pair had filed nearly identical suits against many local businesses simply to harass them.
U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence K. Karlton disagreed with Pier 1, according to Friday's Vacaville Reporter.
"Relative to other suits, plaintiff has filed a declaration which details 43 different suits which he initiated," Karlton wrote in his recent decision. "He is able to provide the dates on which he visited the various premises, the barriers he faced, as well as his interactions . . . with the various defendants . . . in order to assist them in complying with the ADA."
"From all that appears, the number of lawsuits plaintiff has filed does not reflect that he is a vexatious litigant; rather, it appears to reflect the failure of the defendants to comply with the law. Accordingly, the court cannot find that plaintiff has filed frivolous ADA lawsuits."
In October of last year, another federal judge made a similar decision in a lawsuit that Wilson, who is a spokesperson for Citizens Acting for the Rights of the Disabled, filed against a San Diego Wal-Mart.
In December of 2004, U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie called wheelchair user Jared Molski a "vexatious litigant" for filing hundreds of discrimination suits "maliciously and without good cause". Rafeedie ordered Molski, who had dubbed himself "The Sheriff", to first get permission from a judge before filing more ADA lawsuits.
"Disabled advocate vindicated" (Vacaville Reporter)