ADA is set up to encourage complaint-filing. The business on the other side of the suit is generally the loser in an ADA lawsuit! Establishments hit with an ADA suit should immediately retain an experienced and qualified ADA expert to inspect the property and identify potential violations, and to make recommendations for correcting any violations. It is critical that the business take measures to get in compliance with ADA requirements as quickly as possible. KeyInfoNet, Anthony Cave, reports the new wave of ADA suits that have, once again, hit resorts and hotels located in the Keys.
A Boca Raton man who has filed countless federal lawsuits since 2013 alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act at hotels is at it again.
Howard Cohan, who targeted a string of Florida Keys hotels, including the Westin Key West Resort and Marina and Banana Bay in Key West and Caloosa Cove Resort, Casa Morada and the Matecumbe Resort in Islamorada, earlier this year with the lawsuits filed at least nine new suits in July.
The latest list of properties targeted by Cohan for ADA compliance include the La Te Da Hotel on Duval Street, the Marquesa Hotel on Fleming Street and the Coral Lagoon Resort and Marina in Marathon.
“It’s getting a little bit out of control,” Key West attorney Darren Horan, whose office is involved with more than 10 of these cases, said. “Eventually, this is going to be an ongoing thing, it’s a quick pay day for these attorneys.”
Horan noted that it’s cheaper to settle than to fight the allegations in court.
Cohan’s complaints follow a similar formula. In court documents, he admits he is a “tester” looking for ADA violations at businesses.
He then “proceeds with legal action to enjoin such discrimination and subsequently returns to the premises to verify its compliance or noncompliance.”
Cohan also claims he has “numerous disabilities,” including spinal stenosis, and usually cites the lack of a pool lift as the ADA violation.
According to Title III of the ADA, places open to the public must remove physical barriers to pools, which usually means a property installing a fixed pool lift. The provision took effect on Jan. 31, 2013.
Jodi Weinhofer, president of the Lodging Association of the Florida Keys and Key West, said her office has been working with affected properties since the end of May, giving them information on coming into compliance.
“It’s just a shame, this guy isn’t in it to make anyone’s life better,” Weinhofer said. “I have not heard of a single instance where he’s stayed at the property.”
According to Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office records, Cohan’s 7,946-square-foot Boca Raton home has a 2014 market value of $1,208,504. However, according to federal court records, he has twice filed for bankruptcy since May 2013.
Neither Cohan, nor his lawyer, Mark Cohen, could be reached for comment.