One person has filed dozens of lawsuits over the last few years.
ECHO PARK, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A person who is legally blind is suing an Echo Park restaurant, claiming its website violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to court documents, that same person has filed dozens of lawsuits over the last few years.
"Just as a business, it's really scary to get this court summons in the mail," said Bryan Sharafkhah, the owner of Sticky Rice in Echo Park. He said he's very conscious of people with disabilities.
"My mom was disabled when I was in middle school, and she's used a wheelchair since then, so to me, it's very personal when somebody says we're not accommodating," said Sharafkhah.
The lawsuit claims the plaintiff had problems with access to Sticky Rice's website.
"Had somebody let me know that, like, 'Hey, your website doesn't work for blind people,' we would've done our best to accommodate that, and as soon as that was brought to our attention, we added that," said Sharafkhah.
Dan Danet, an attorney who is not connected to this case, defends businesses against ADA lawsuits. He said when it comes to website accessibility lawsuits, they don't have a clear standard of reasonable accessibility.
"I can't tell you what number of errors is too many or what number of errors is acceptable, what combination of errors is acceptable," he said.
The plaintiff, Rebecca Castillo, has filed dozens of lawsuits over the past few years, and they've all been handled by the same law firm, Manning Law APC.
Eyewitness News reached out to Joe Manning, the attorney handling the case. He issued a statement, saying in part that the filing of the lawsuit "was the right call on every level."
"The blind and visually impaired must have access to websites and apps to fully and equally participate in modern society - something nobody disputes," he wrote in a statement. "This outcome furthers that critical objective for them and is a credit to our society."
Manning said though he does not comment on pending cases, he said he considers steps like the prompt remediation of a website, making the website accessible, and the impact of the case on the defendant when he's attempting to resolve a case.
"I am also aware that some oppose the ability of persons with disabilities to enforce the law though private civil lawsuits," added Manning. "However, it is important to remember that this is the only mechanism established by Congress and the legislature to enforce the ADA and related laws enacted over 33 years ago."
California law allows a fine of $4,000 per violation, and the state leads the nation in the number of ADA lawsuits filed. The number peaked in 2021 at nearly 6,000, before dropping to 2,500 in 2022.
"There is kind of a split between plaintiffs that feel like they are doing a very important service to society, making websites and physical stores more accessible, and then there are plaintiffs out there that have questionable motives," said Danet.
Senate Bill 585 would change the law so that before someone sues, a small business would be able to address the alleged violations within 120 days. The legislation to change the ADA law, however, hasn't moved through the Assembly so far.
Business owners hope it will make it through in 2024.