Arizona Wants to Shut Down Blizzard of Handicapped Violation Lawsuits

Kavanagh said the handicapped parking spots are not the only targets of the lawsuits. He knows the owner of a small hotel who was sued because the pool didn’t have a wheelchair lift.

"He's being sued for $5,000 because of the mental anguish suffered by a victim who never even checked into the hotel," Kavanagh told the Arizona Republic. "That's the game. Lawyers are extorting money from hotels for very minor violations.”

Rose Daly-Rooney, legal director for the Arizona Center for Disability Law, told the ABA Journal she’d like to find out if the hotel, one of several that were sued for not having pool lifts, installed the equipment after they were sued.

Phil Pangrazio, the executive director of the Phoenix-based nonprofit organization Ability 360, said that SB 1284 is as overzealous an effort to correct a wrong as was the AID lawsuits.

“This bill encourages entities to not follow the law,” said Pangrazio. “Businesses have had 25 years to learn about the ADA and come into compliance. This is an insult to every disabled person and their family members.”

He admitted that the AID campaign might have overreached, but if nothing else, Pangrazio said, the AID campaign brought to light what he described as “blatant noncompliance” with federal ADA laws.

Jennifer Rogers, who was the executive director of Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, resigned in late August. But she maintained in her farewell message that AID had done good work.

"ADA is finally in the spotlight after 26 years, and today it is a conversation had by businesses across Maricopa County, which is a win for individuals with disabilities,” Rogers said. “I have seen discrimination, threats, and harm that comes from hate, and I have a true understanding of the difficulties fighting for accessibility for all.”

Larry Wanger, executive director of the Arizona Statewide Living Council, told the Phoenix New Times legal action has a place in the continuing fight to make sure handicapped-accessible parking ramps, elevators and bathrooms are available.

"We can talk to business owners and try to convince them to accommodate us,” Wanger said, “but let's be honest: suing is what gets results.”