Wheelchair Posse Pal Blasts Weekly
I just read your one-sided, sensationalistic opinion-disguised-as-news article about Gunther-the-Terrible, i.e. the big, evil wheelchair-bound David Gunther who dares to sue businesses who refuse to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ("The New Crips," October 12, 2006.)
Unfortunately, your biased reporter, R. Scott Moxley, focused only on demonizing Gunther-the-Terrible but said nothing about the real issue, namely, why it is that so many businesses refuse to comply with the ADA unless a Gunther-the-Terrible comes to town. The article even gave Gunther-the-Terrible's criminal history, which was interesting, but not fascinating, and was totally irrelevant to the issue. Moxley didn't even list all the ADA violations of the businesses Gunther-the-Terrible and others have sued, or how many people in wheelchairs were affected by the violations until Gunther-the-Terrible came along. Nor did Moxley print the criminal history of the owners of these businesses, which would be just as irrelevant Gunther-the-Terrible's criminal history.I am an attorney who provided free legal services for people with mental disabilities during my first two years out of law school. I have seen tons of ADA violations in business establishments, and about four years ago I represented Gunther-the-Terrible (gasp!) against two Orange County businesses that had no wheelchair access at all. We gave these businesses many chances to settle for a very low amount, but they chose to fight the case by shifting attention away from their ADA violations and onto Gunther-the-Terrible, hoping a judicial activist judge would ignore the law and dismiss the case. Thankfully, that didn't happen, and instead the judge recognized that state law creates a $4,000 penalty for ADA violators regardless of the plaintiffs' motives. This penalty is supposed to deter, but, sadly enough, it has little effect unless a Gunther-the-Terrible enforces it.
The bottom line is that, unfortunately, it takes a Gunther-the-Terrible to force widespread ADA compliance because so many business [sic] otherwise do not care. The real issue is not the motives of the Gunther-the-Terribles but the thousands of California business establishments that refuse to comply with the ADA until a Gunther-the-Terrible comes along and sues. In places like Eagle Rock and Fresno, these types of lawsuits not only forced compliance but also got businesses and the local chambers of commerce to distribute ADA compliance checklists, something they never did before.
Of course, that is just a bothersome little technicality to Moxley. What matters to him and to grandstanding politicians and judicial activist judges is that people like Gunther-the-Terrible are easy to pick on and provide a wonderful opportunity to grandstand or write sensationalist stories that ignore the real issue and are designed to trigger reactionary furer [sic] from readers of the Orange County Register. In my opinion, Moxley should write for tabloids instead.