Plaintiff in bogus ADA lawsuits must pay sizable court fees
October 27, 2017 10:17 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For months now, the 4 Investigates team has exposed the shady practices of an Arizona-based company that targeted 99 Albuquerque businesses and engineered lawsuits claiming these businesses violated federal disabilities laws.
The whole scheme was a sham, but it left many of those businesses with hefty legal fees and the plaintiff in all these cases stuck with a massive court bill.
In an April interview, Alyssa Carton said she wanted to make things better for people who shared her struggles.
"I've endured a lot of challenges with accessibility and struggling with everyday life," she said. "Simple things like cooking for myself or getting out or explaining myself in social situations has been really difficult."
Responding to an online ad, Carton reached out to the Phoenix-based Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities Foundation, a group that also goes by the name Litigation Management and Financial Services. The group vowed to sue more than 100,000 businesses nationwide in the name of disability advocacy
Using Carton as a pawn, the group engineered 99 of those lawsuits in Albuquerque. Attorney Sharon Pomeranz spearheaded the local lawsuit frenzy with guidance and a contract from AID. Pomeranz then told Carton what to do.
"I was intentionally looking for things that were intentionally ADA-non compliant," Carton said. "My goal was to help move ADA along. I was also told that or assumed that people were pre-warned we were coming. I just did what I thought was my job."
But the whole scheme fell apart when 4 Investigates exposed the drive-by lawsuits. A federal judge determined all 99 suits were frivolous and malicious. For how reckless Pomeranz acted, a disciplinary board forced her to give up practicing law altogether.
Then this week, Carton learned she is stuck with $38,300 in court fees due in three weeks. When her attorney filed the lawsuits she never paid the filing fees. That means Carton is now on the hook. The woman who just wanted to make a difference is now taking the hardest financial fall.
Pomeranz and AID had a contract agreeing that AID would cover court costs, but getting any money from that company is unlikely. It's facing massive legal troubles in Arizona. Carton said she does not have $38,300 to pay the court.
Also, the court is allowing any of those 99 businesses to countersue Carton to cover the costs of fighting the sham lawsuits.
Updated: October 27, 2017 10:17 PM
Created: October 27, 2017 08:47 PM
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