Chamber of Commerce warns SWFL businesses of drive-by lawsuits

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CAPE CORAL, Fla.- Kevin Berry is a compliance officer with the Southwest Florida ADA.  It’s his job to make sure businesses follow the Americans with Disabilities Act.

That was the case with the Wendy’s near Del Prado and Cape Coral Parkway.

Someone filed a complaint with Berry’s team, concerned about Wendy’s wheelchair ramp, or lack thereof.

Berry says, “there was no real ramp, they went up steps so there was no way for a wheelchair to get up.”

Besides problems with the ramp, Berry also found the restaurant had just one handicap parking spot, when they were supposed to have two.

It was also right behind the drive-thru, a dangerous place for anyone.

“They corrected the spots and the ramp. They did a pretty good job,” said Berry.

Wendy’s was not sued, but Berry says they could have been, and that could cost the owners tens of thousands of dollars.

That’s why the Chamber of Commerce is getting involved. They sent emails to chamber members, warning them of drive-by lawsuits.

WINK News first told you about drive-by lawsuits in November 2014. The lawsuits happen when a plaintiff drives by a business, takes a quick look around and files the lawsuit — giving businesses zero notice.

“Their intent is not to fix the problem, their intent is only to sue and make money,” said Berry.

The chamber, as well as the ADA, want you to know, don’t assume you’re compliant.

“There’s no grandfather, 1992 they changed the law,” said Berry.

He added, “there are different exceptions that you can apply until you can afford to fix the problem or can show it’s not within capabilities of building to remodel.”

The SWFL ADA can provide free consultations, if you aren’t sure your business is ADA compliant.

Kevin Berry can be reached 239-292-3469.

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