Controversial serial-suing attorney filing new cases, demanding more money than ever

If there’s one thing about Peter Strojnik, it’s that he doesn’t go down without a fight.

The controversial attorney, who’s filed more than 2,000 disability lawsuits in Arizona, is back at it again and filing new cases even as he’s under investigation by the Arizona State Bar, barred from filing ADA cases in state court, and congressmen specifically debate how to slow him down.

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Since August, Strojnik has filed 92 new cases in federal court. He’s now demanding more money than ever.

In the cases, he’s seeking tens of thousands of dollars – and it’s working.

Out of the 92 cases, at least 35 have settled, court records show. Sources told ABC15 that Strojnik has made several hundred thousand dollars from the cases so far.

ABC15 obtained a recent settlement agreement in one case that shows a hotel paid Strojnik $18,750 to make the case go away.

In an email, Strojnik didn’t answer several questions sent by ABC15.

Instead, he wrote: “It is clear to me that you have no interest in civil rights of the disabled and that my communications to you are waste of my time. I have, based on my knowledge of you as an ableist, blocked you from my e-mail address.”

In the last few years, Strojnik has become one of the most prolific serial-suers in Amercia by filing  thousands of cases under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ABC15 has reported extensively on his cases, specifically his lawsuits filed on behalf of a controversial group called Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID).

AID’s lawsuits were copy-and-paste cases that alleged violations with parking lots signs. They were in the most literal sense drive-by lawsuits and most demanded between $5,000 and $7,500.

ABC15’s reports prompted the Attorney General to take previous action against AID and Strojnik last year, which resulted in mass dismissal of those cases in state court. As part of the AG’s previous actions, AID and Strojnik settled with the state agreeing to never file another ADA lawsuit in state courts again.

Strojnik has filed the 92 new cases in federal court with a new plaintiff named Fernando Gastelum, who he pays $350 per case, records show.

In those cases, Strojnik claims he is putting in more than $20,000 of legal work.

It’s the high fee demands that make this a controversial situation. In ADA lawsuits, attorneys are only allowed to sue to fix disability-access violations and recoup legal fees. So claim a higher hourly-rate and fees, get a bigger settlement.

Attorneys representing businesses are challenging Strojnik’s huge fee demands. One valley attorney, Lindsay Leavitt, laid out in a court motion that it was highly unlikely for Strojnik to have done all of the legal work he claimed.

“If (Strojnik) averages $18,500 in fees in each of the 90 identical ADA cases he has filed since August 2017 he will have generated $1,665,000 in fees for legal work done over the course of six (6) months. Even if the Court permitted Mr. Strojnik to bill at $650/hour (which it should not) this would mean that he billed 2,561 hours in six months (or 423 hours per month). In other words, Mr. Strojnik is claiming to bill fourteen hours per day, seven days a week for six months straight.”

Strojnik is under state bar investigation for his tactics in his disability lawsuits.

Multiple judges have also chastised Strojnik for his unethical tactics and likened his cases to legal extortion. The Attorney General’s Office also recently filed a motion in federal court seeking to label Strojnik a “vexatious litigant,” which would severely limit his ability to file new cases.

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

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