The filing of at least 21 civil lawsuits over alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations against small Manteca businesses is serial lawsuit filer Scott Johnson’s second venture into South San Joaquin County.
Nearly two years ago the Carmichael-based lawyer targeted French Camp and went away with a healthy payday.
One of his targets was Pete Paulsen of Pete Paulsen’s Hot Rod Party fame and The House of Wheels. (Yes, Paulsen has devoted much of his energy over the last two decades raising money for non-profits including those assisting the handicapped at his annual hot rod parties. Let no good deed go unpunished.)
Johnson apparently stopped by Pete’s Pub in French Camp to have a few brews. Neither Paulsen nor his staff recall Johnson dropping by even though given the large motorized wheelchair he uses he’d be hard to miss.
At any rate, Paulsen installed hand rails in the bathrooms and an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant front door. He also made three payments of $300 each via checks he said that Johnson requested predated for some reason.
Paulsen said he got off lucky.
Other business got hit harder. Paulsen recalled that J&L Market on El Dorado Street in French Camp had to pay Johnson $9,000 as a result of his 120-mile round trip to shop for milk and other grocery items.
Johnson’s tendency to make return trips to mine independent businesses for lawsuits is the reason why Manteca businessman John Perez of custom cabinet fame has organized today’s free workshop to answer questions and help business folks and landlords to try to avoid being stung with ADA lawsuits.
It takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Emory, 1028 W. Yosemite Ave. He’s arranged to have Dawn Anderson, and architect and inspector that is an expert in the area of construction and accessibility requirement regulations, make a short presentation and field questions.
A good number of the targets of Johnson’s 3,000 lawsuits throughout Northern California over the years have been forced out of business from Lake Tahoe to the Bay Area to Sacramento with some punitive damages approaching six figures.
Johnson so far has filed more than 3,000 lawsuits mostly in Northern California.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, Councilman Vince Hernandez suggested that merchants should circulate a photo of Johnson and make everyone aware of what he looks like in case he comes knocking on their door for another pay day.
Perez isn’t taking any chances. He’s locked the door to his South Main Street business and posted a sign that tells potential clients to call a specific number for an appointment. And while he does get some drop-in clientele he can’t risk the chance.
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