The Lake Forest Cafe is a restaurant that was built out of an old house. It has always been a marginal business. The space is limited and it was open for limited hours. But for the regulars of the place it is a down home place for brunch. (They serve breakfast and lunch, at least until June 30). They're closing because one of the troll law firms who specialize in ADA suits.
One their site the firm claims - "The Moore Law Firm, P.C. was founded in 1993 by attorney K. Randolph Moore on the belief that every United States citizen is entitled to the protection of his or her constitutional rights. One of those rights is the ability to access public accommodations (businesses, restaurants, movie theaters and the like) regardless of one's disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA") and related California law empowered the attorneys at the Moore Law Firm to end discrimination against persons with disabilities, and we have achieved wide-spread positive change in communities throughout California." This type of firm makes a living by searching for businesses that are out of compliance with the ADA and then suing the owners. The attorney who filed the suit, one Tanya Moore, went to Santa Clara Law school. Evidently Ms. Moore did not take a course in Constitutional Law - the ADA is statutory.
The ADA was adopted by Congress more than two decades ago. And for the first few years, there were a lot of enforcement actions against large businesses and others to encourage compliance. But since the Act was passed, fewer and fewer establishments are not in compliance so firms like the Moore firm troll for clients. Most of what they do is sue to get a settlement. The Plaintiff in this case is one Robert Kalani, who seems to have teamed up with the Moore Law firm on other ADA related cases (see for example a case filed in April of this year) in at least one other case. If you check out recent filings of Mr. Kalani you see that he has made a nice little niche for himself in the last several months suing a variety of businesses in the Sacramento area. From the filings he also seems to have been involved in lawsuits outside of the area. Seems like he and his troll lawyer(s) have made a nice business of lawsuits.
The bounty that these trolls are able to reap comes from the structure of the suits. The suits are almost impossible to defend, indeed, the Lake Forest Cafe (or an earlier case in a small restaurant called the Squeeze Inn) facility is quirky. It is after all an old house. It is unlikely that the house could be refitted to meet the ADA requirements without significant cost. On new construction ADA compliance adds some additional cost but on rehab the costs can be huge. If the defendant loses they end up having to pay their own lawyer, the plaintiff's lawyer, any settlement costs and court costs. So many businesses end up settling.
There are plenty of places for Mr. Kalani to get breakfast, even a hearty one, in a stones throw from the soon to be closed cafe. Congratulations Ms. Moore and Mr. Kalani - while this lawsuit was not successful you did help to build unemployment in the area and to destroy a decent place for an informal brunch.