In a major settlement stemming from an ABC15 investigation, the controversial “advocacy” group that sued 1,700 Valley businesses has agreed to never file another disability lawsuit in state courts again.
Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID) reached a settlement agreement with the Attorney General’s Office last week, records show. The deal was sent to a judge for final approval Thursday.
“This is a big win for Arizona consumers and Arizona businesses,” said Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. “They will no longer be filing any lawsuits in Arizona.”
He continued, “Thank you for reporting and shining a spotlight on this.”
The key terms of the settlement:
- AID, and any individual associated with the group, is prohibited from filing any new lawsuits in Arizona courts that allege violations under the American’s with Disabilities Act.
- AID will pay the Attorney General’s Office attorneys’ fees.
- AID will pay the Attorney General’s Office $25,000 to set up a fund for an ADA education campaign and for business to apply to obtain funds towards ADA improvements.
The settlement caps a year-long legal battle between Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID) and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, which intervened in all of AID’s open cases because of ABC15’s investigation.
Last year, reporters exposed AID had sued 1,700 businesses and initially demanded between $5,000 to $7,500 to settle. Most lawsuits alleged issues with businesses’ parking lot signs.
In almost all of the cases, ABC15 discovered a person with disabilities never actually visited the business.
In February, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed more than 1,000 of AID’s open cases. As part of the Attorney General’s case, evidentiary hearings were also scheduled early next year to determine penalties and sanctions against AID attorneys and employees.
It appears AID was willing to settle rather than have its attorneys and employees undergo days of sworn testimony, further exposing the group’s operation.
ABC15 has exposed that the people behind AID had expanded into other states using a different entity called Litigation Management and Financial Services.
Their cases in other states are also running to significant legal challenges.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at firstname.lastname@example.org.