The Nevada Attorney General’s Office is challenging more than 150 disability lawsuits filed by a controversial group with Arizona ties by asking a judge to let the state intervene and consolidate all of the cases.
It’s a move similar to one successfully carried outby the Arizona Attorney General’s Office last year against Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID), which sued more than 1,700 Valley businesses in a six month period.
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Nevada’s legal motion also signals a growing trend of court and state officials who are fighting back against “frivolous” disability lawsuits filed by serial-suing operations.
“The complaints are potentially malicious or, at best, premature and poorly drafted,” according to the motion filed by the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which didn’t respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.
In Nevada, a plaintiff named Kevin Zimmerman and his attorney Whitney Wilcher sued 275 businesses – 157 of those lawsuits are still open.
The pair are suing on behalf of two entities, NevadaADA.com and Litigation Management and Financial Services. An ongoing ABC15 investigation uncovered both entities are run by the same people behind AID.
The lawsuits allege a variety of disability-access violations and seek between $3,900 and $7,500, records show.
The problem, according to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, is that federal law requires that potential plaintiffs must first notify a special state commission about alleged ADA violations before a lawsuit can be filed.
But that didn’t happen in any of the 275 cases, according to the motion.
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In Arizona, the Attorney General’s Office successfully argued similar issues and convinced a judge to consolidate all of AID’s open cases and let the state join in as a defendant.
As a result, more than 1,100 AID lawsuits were dismissed. The state is currently seeking sanctions against the group and its attorneys for "fraudulent" and unethical conduct.
At the time, Attorney General Mark Brnovich said his office’s action was prompted by ABC15’s reporting.
“Frankly your reporting has really brought a lot attention here in Arizona and nationally to this issue,” he said. “This is something we are taking a lead on. I'm pushing back on these frivolous lawsuits. I just think it's time someone did something.”
ABC15 has learned that AG officials in Nevada and Arizona had been discussing how to handle issues over these lawsuits. An Arizona AG spokesman also told ABC15 that “several AG’s across the country are reviewing this very matter as a result of discussions with Brnovich and our office.”
Officials for AID, NevadaADA.com, and Litigation Management and Financial Services did not immediately respond for requests for comment.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.