Attorney General's office takes action after ABC15 investigation into ADA serial suers

Posted at 12:57 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 22:50:11-04

The Arizona Attorney General's office is stepping in after an ABC15 investigation into an "advocacy" group that's flooded the Valley with disability access lawsuits against businesses.

FULL COVERAGE: Cash for Compliance?

The AG's office intervened Wednesday in a case filed by "Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities " (AID) against a pool company.

"Plaintiff Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities, LLC is flooding this Court with lawsuits, apparently as part of a concerted effort to improperly use the judicial system for its own enrichment," wrote the AG's office in a court filing.

AID has filed at least 1,500 lawsuits since the beginning of the year.

They target businesses that they say do not have parking lots that comply with the "Americans with Disability Act" (ADA).

Businesses said the group is essentially extorting them.

AID touts itself as a civil rights champion. It says its goal is to make sure every place of public accommodation complies with the ADA.

But the AG's office said it believes AID has exceeded its authority, and does not believe AID is allowed to collect fees on these types of lawsuits.

By intervening, the AG's office is making itself a part of the lawsuit, essentially challenging AID's authority to bring these cases.

The office believes ADA compliance is their responsibility and is motioning to take the case over -- and likely several more.

ABC15 has heard from dozens of businesses and attorneys. Owners who have fixed issues in their parking lot said AID often demands thousands of dollars to settle.

Companies have been sued often for nothing more than having a disabled parking sign a few inches too low.

AG officials said they took action specifically because of an ABC15 investigation that began airing three weeks ago. 

It's not clear if the AG's office will extend its intervention to all of the lawsuits filed by AID.

AID did not immediately respond to ABC15's request for comment.