Hillcrest area businesses settle lawsuits

SAN DIEGO - Several businesses in the Hillcrest and City Heights neighborhoods sued for allegedly discriminating against disabled people have settled.

Attorney John Turner tells 10News his clients made the determination it was best to get the cases resolved as quick and cheap as possible, rather than fight those battles.

“That’s despite the fact that there were few if any violations,” he said. “Some of them had none at all.”

Turner says the claims were all about seating.

He says the complaints were trying to apply a standard that you would use for fixed seating and in nearly every instance the restaurants had moveable tables and movable chairs so they weren’t really subject to those standards.

“Beyond that, most of them had made accommodations for disabled people,” he said.

The Hillcrest area lawsuits were filed by La Jolla-based attorney, Ted Shin.

Court records show Shin is working with at least eight different clients.

Combined they’ve filed more than 200 civil rights lawsuits against businesses in San Diego County since January of last year.

In February, Team 10 uncovered a similar lawsuit Shin filed against a business in El Cajon.

In that case, 10News worked with an access specialist who found every one of the claims alleging things the premises lacked was false.

In April, Team 10 tracked down a state certified access specialist who questioned another similar lawsuit filed against a Hillcrest business. David Stuber walked Team 10 through the lawsuit against Subterranean Coffee Boutique. He said he determined all eight allegations were unfounded.

Team 10 asked the State Bar of California if there are any penalties for filing a false lawsuit and if anyone investigates.

A spokesperson responded, “The State Bar’s mission is to protect the public, the courts and the legal profession from unethical practitioners. If there’s a complaint alleging that the pursuit of litigation involving violations of the ADA was tantamount to unethical behavior, the bar would take a look at the facts and circumstances to determine whether a violation has occurred.”

They also noted that they don’t necessarily need a complaint to open an investigation. According to the spokesperson, the Chief Trial Counsel’s Office does have the authority to open an investigation based on independent information.

Since the investigation process is confidential by law they can’t say when that happens. 

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