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    Disabled Lawyer Fined for Suing Closed Store

    Disabled-access lawyer told to pay

    By Anne Krueger
    March 29, 2007

    DOWNTOWN SAN DIEGO – San Diego attorney Theodore Pinnock, who has made his living – and angered hundreds of business owners – by alleging violations of access laws for the disabled, has been ordered to pay more than $15,000 in fees and take legal-ethics training.

    The order was issued this week by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, who said Pinnock alleged violations of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act at a San Diego convenience store even though the store has been closed for more than two years.
    Miller said Pinnock violated federal court rules by making allegations in his lawsuit without a “reasonable and competent inquiry.”

    Pinnock was ordered to pay attorney fees of $15,213 and complete four hours of ethics and professional responsibility classes given by the state bar.

    Pinnock declined to be interviewed. Attorney Mitch Wallis, who represented store owner Marcos Mouet, could not be reached for comment.

    Pinnock has cerebral palsy, which affects his speech and coordination. He has made his living since 1992 by sending notices or filing lawsuits against business owners alleging violations of the federal disabilities act, demanding that changes be made and a settlement paid to him.

    In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court ruling in Pinnock's favor regarding disabled access at a San Diego restaurant. It was the first legal challenge to the 1990 law to reach the nation's highest court.

    Pinnock attracted particular attention after he sent letters in November 2005 to 67 business owners in Julian, alleging access violations in the historic mountain mining town. Four months later, he targeted about 40 Alpine business owners with letters or lawsuits.

    In the most recent case, Pinnock filed a class-action lawsuit in October 2006 against an Ocean Beach convenience store. He represented a group called the Association of Women With Disabilities Advocating Access and a woman named Delores Jackson, 71, who uses a walker.

    The lawsuit alleged that Jackson visited the store in March 2006 and said the entrance door was too heavy, the aisles too narrow, the restroom inaccessible and store counters too high. The lawsuit said photos of those conditions were available.

    Miller said in his ruling that the store has been closed since December 2004, its doors covered with plywood. The store has never had a public restroom, Miller said.

    Pinnock acknowledged that the claims about the front door and the restroom were in error, Miller said. The judge ordered Pinnock to complete the ethics training within 120 days.

    Other store owners sued by Pinnock still are trying to make their businesses meet accessibility requirements, said Pat Cannon, president of the Alpine Chamber of Commerce.

    “They feel very angry at Mr. Pinnock because of the way it was done,” Cannon said. “Everybody wants to be as ADA-compliant as they possibly can.”
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  2. #2
    Star Man's Avatar
    Star Man is offline Guns only have two enemies; rust and politicians
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    Scum sucking lawyer,, what do you expect,,, they always make a living off the backs of others.



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