In Brooklyn, a boilerplate American With Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit can cost your targeted business $15,000. The good news, federal Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. issued an opinion on March 28, 2013 denying a $15,000 request for attorney fees by two lawyers, Adam Shore and B. Bradley Weitz, for an ADA lawsuit against a Brooklyn Subway restaurant. Among other over billing issues, the Judge ruled:
Similarly excessive is the over 17 hours charged to pre-suit preparation and ‘drafting’ of pleadings. The Complaint, Amended Complaint, motion for entry of default, motion for default judgment and Motion for Fees are practically identical to the pleadings filed by Shore and Weitz in federal actions in New York and Florida. It is clear that the ‘drafting’ refers to counsel’s efforts in cutting and pasting old defendants in place of new defendants. Thus charging over 10 hours for ‘drafting’ these pleadings is disingenuous at best.
Judge Johnson went on to admonish these lawyers for their serial filing of ADA complaints:
Those who take on the honorable cause of representing disabled individuals must recognize that they not only represent their fellow lawyers of the bar, but also the legal giants who paved the way for passage of crucial civil rights legislation like the ADA. One such legal giant, Charles Hamilton Houston, famously said that ‘a lawyer is either a social engineer or he’s a parasite on society.’ The conduct of counsel is indicative of a parasite disguised as a social engineer. It must stop.
LPR agrees with Judge Johnson that any lawyer who bills more hours for a lawsuit than s/he spends preparing it is, in his words, a parasite. This “value” billing (billing the hours it would take to prepare a lawsuit from scratch, when only replacing the names in a form lawsuit) is fraudulent and unethical, yet many do it.
Ask your lawyer if s/he has filed lawsuits similar to yours before. And if so, ask if s/he uses form lawsuits and how much s/he charges for it.
Unfortunately, the current legal market has too few social engineers.
You’ve got options. The Center for Legal Practice Reform can help you navigate the attorney/client relationship and level the playing field. Call LPR today for a free consultation – (301) 351-7970.