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Foresthill businesses face ADA compliance lawsuits

7:26 PM, Apr 23, 2012   |    comments
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FORESTHILL, CA - The town of Foresthill is 17 miles off the interstate and many of the buildings date back to the Gold Rush; that's why business owners in town thought they wouldn't have to worry about lawsuits over disability access.

Business owners in the historic foothill community said they're under siege after they became the latest targets of a disabled attorney who claims the businesses lack proper access.

Quadriplegic attorney Scott Johnson has filed more than 1,000 lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Business owners in Foresthill said Johnson spent several days in town in January; the letters and lawsuits soon followed.

Among the businesses facing lawsuits include The Red Dirt Saloon and Ore Cart Steakhouse, built in 1854.

"I'm sorry that he's in this position, but does that give him the right to terrorize the businesses of Foresthill and put us all out of business?" Red Dirt Saloon owner Joan Elliott said.

Other businesses include Worton's Market, The Over Easy Starlite Café and Foresthill Joe's coffee shop.

"This is the last thing that we need," Foresthill Joe's owner Sara Schnuck said.

Although the saloon and steakhouse are only a few years younger than the State of California, the owner said a major renovation 17 years ago brought it into ADA compliance.

But Johnson's lawsuit points to the ramp outside, which he claims is too steep.

Red Dirt Saloon regular Crawford Casto, who arrived at the business by wheelchair, thinks it's nonsense.

"I can't understand why somebody wants to be this petty, to come around and do something that's not necessary," Castco said.

Whether or not the claims are valid, the businesses are spending money to defend themselves.

The cafe is collecting cash in a jar.

Meanwhile, a grassroots movement aimed at stopping lawsuit abuse is hosting a public forum Tuesday at 3 p.m. on the south steps of the state Capitol.

Johnson has not responded to News10's request for a comment.

News10/KXTV

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