Judge temporarily bans new ADA lawsuits, combines previous cases from controversial 'advocacy' group

PHOENIX - A Maricopa County Superior Court judge has combined more than a 1,100 disability-access lawsuits into a single case after a request by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.

The controversial group behind the flood of lawsuits, Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID), is also temporarily barred from filing new lawsuits.

Judge David Talamante issued the orders late Friday.

FULL COVERAGE: “Cash for Compliance?

AID has filed more than 1,700 lawsuits this year alleging violations in Valley businesses’ parking lots under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In many cases, an ABC15 investigation found AID has sued businesses and demanded thousands to settle because parking signs were a few inches too low.

The Attorney General’s Office made an unusual and unprecedented move late last month when it filed a motion to intervene in AID’s lawsuits. Judge Talamante granted the AG’s motion to intervene, allowing the state to join the consolidated lawsuit as a defendant.

In an interview, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said he decided to take on AID because of ABC15’s investigation into the group.

Brnovich said he believes AID is “abusing” and “misusing” the law.

There are currently more than 1,100 AID cases still under litigation. Judge Talamante’s order combines all of those cases into a single one.

“The State intends to file a motion seeking dismissal of all consolidated cases on the basis of threshold questions of law and fact common to all consolidated cases, including, but not limited to, Plaintiffs’ lack of standing,” according to news release sent by the Attorney General’s Office after the ruling. “The State also intends to seek sanctions against Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities and their attorneys.”

Attorneys for AID have shot back at the Attorney General by saying his office has failed to properly enforce ADA law for years.  The group claims it has the authority to mass enforce ADA non-compliance through serial lawsuits.

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AID has promised to fight the AG’s involvement and said it will attempt to take the case to the Supreme Court, if necessary. AID has also filed a special action seeking to remove Talamante from the case.

A decision on the special action is still outstanding.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

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