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U.S. Businesses Get Hit With Record Numbers of Disability Lawsuits

Some serial plaintiffs file dozens of cases asking for monetary settlements, and authorities in California have started to crack down.

Michael Lee, owner of Sandwich Board in Alameda, California. Lee added a table to the counter after being named in a disability lawsuit that was later dismissed. 

Michael Lee, owner of Sandwich Board in Alameda, California. Lee added a table to the counter after being named in a disability lawsuit that was later dismissed. 

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

U.S. small businesses have been battling soaring inflation, labor shortages and supply-chain snarls during the pandemic. Now many are hit by another unexpected challenge: disability lawsuits.

Industry associations and business owners say serial plaintiffs filing dozens or hundreds of cases are increasingly using the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to extract tens of thousands of dollars in settlements — and not to promote access as the landmark civil-rights law intended.