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Judge says she will likely dismiss 99 ADA lawsuits

Chris Ramirez
May 12, 2017 07:26 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The 99 Albuquerque businesses sued for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations are claiming a major victory. Not only will the cases likely be dismissed, the attorney who brought the suits may also be sanctioned for her malicious litigation strategy.

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What happened here in New Mexico is another failure by an Arizona-based company accused of trying to shake down businesses all across the southwest. The magistrate court on Thursday ruled that two women -- plaintiff Alyssa Carton and attorney Sharon Pomeranz -- engaged in such activity and they will likely pay for it now.  

Attorneys representing 99 businesses wanted honest answers about why their clients were targeted, sued and forced to pay thousands to defend claims that they were ADA-unfriendly. In court, Carton admitted she thought the way she went about suing the businesses was malicious and abusive.

It left defense attorneys stunned.

"In my many years of practice, I've never heard a plaintiff admit that she was ashamed and that the litigation was in part malicious," said one attorney, Lorna Wiggins.

That admission didn't come before Carton made some misleading statements. For example, she told the judge she did not get $50 for each lawsuit she filed. In an interview with 4 Investigates, she said she got paid. 

"There's money involved, little bit of things worked out," she said at the time.

4 Investigates obtained this contract between Carton and a group called Litigation Management and Financial Services. It states she gets paid $50 for each claim that results in a filed complaint.

KOB tried asking about this after court, but Carton declined to comment.

Litigation Management Services has a direct tie to the controversial Phoenix-based group AID, which vowed to sue 100,000 businesses nationwide in the name of ADA advocacy. But the Arizona attorney general is now investigating the group.

More than 1,000 of AID's lawsuits in Arizona and Nevada have been dismissed, and their New Mexico operation under Pomeranz crumbled.

The magistrate stated she will recommend that:

  • All cases be dismissed without the ability to re-file
  • Pomeranz could be sanctioned for her role in reckless, frivolous, malicious litigation
  • The two may be on the hook for defense lawyers' fees in all 99 cases

The judge said this kind of litigation and the way it backfired undermines the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The judge said she'll have final answers about her decision within a week.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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