A Valley hotel and its attorney are asking a judge to permanently block a notorious serial-suer from filing disability lawsuits in every federal district court in the country.
After his disbarment last year for unethical conduct, Peter Strojnik has continued to file hundreds of cases in federal and state courts alleging claims against hotels for disability access.
Various hotels’ attorneys allege Strojnik’s claims are frivolous.
One of the lawyers, Lindsay Leavitt, has filed an unprecedented motion to declare Strojnik a “vexatious litigant” in every federal district court.
“No longer constrained by the rules of professional conduct, Mr. Strojnik’s…claims are more frivolous and his demands are more outrageous,” Leavitt wrote in his motion filed October 30, 2020.
A judge has not yet ruled on the motion.
If Strojnik is officially stamped as a vexatious litigant nationwide, he could be barred from asserting any claim arising from the Americans with Disabilities Act in federal courts without first getting permission from a judge.
So far, two California district courts have hit Strojnik with the designation.
“It feels like we’re playing the old arcade game whack a mole: Where you get one case dismissed but six more pop up,” Leavitt told ABC15 in an interview.
In an initial response to the motion, Strojnik wrote Leavitt and his client are trying to recast the hotel from perpetrator to victim and said they are leading a successful strategy to discriminate against disabled individuals.
“They penetrated every capillary of the social body to portray the disabled as an inconsequential throwaway family of unworthy individuals,” Strojnik wrote. “They whispered and sniveled their segregationist views into the ears of the media and the general polity, attorneys general and state legislators, news editors and lawyers associations.”
Strojnik has filed approximately 200 cases since losing his law license, which was first suspended in 2018 and eventually revoked a year later.
He’s now filing cases pro se — or on behalf of himself — and listing himself as the disabled person.
The lawsuits are filed in either state or federal courts in multiple states, including Arizona, California, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado.
One of the cases was filed against a Comfort Suites hotel along Interstate 17 in Phoenix.
Manager Amal Walia, whose family owns the hotel, said Strojnik made a settlement demand of $7500.
If they didn’t agree, he would seek an even higher amount in court.
When asked what Walia thought about Strojnik’s tactics, he responded, “It’s scum.”
Strojnik alleged multiple access violations against the Comfort Suites. One was a parking space that had a pitch of 1.5 degrees instead of the required 1.48. Another was a toilet that had the flusher on the wrong side.
Strojnik claimed barriers at the hotel caused him to “suffer physical pain” and “emotional damage.”
Before disbarment, Strojnik used to file lawsuits on behalf of a group that called themselves “Advocates for Individuals with Disability,” or AID.
The group filed roughly 2,000 “drive-by” lawsuits in a few months in 2016.
Nearly all of the cases focused on disability parking signs and spaces.
Despite AID’s hardline stance against noncompliant signs and spaces, ABC15 discovered the organization’s headquarters was in gross violation of ADA standards.
After a series of the station’s news reports, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office convinced a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to combine the open cases into a consolidated lawsuit.
A judge then dismissed them all.
The Arizona State Bar also opened disciplinary proceedings, which led to Strojnik’s disbarment.
Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at Dave@ABC15.com.