Practice Websites Targeted in ADA Shakedown

An Austin attorney is sending demand letters to physicians and providers across the state alleging that their websites are not accessible to people with visual disabilities and that he will sue them unless they pay him $2,000 plus attorney fees. 

On February 13, 2017, Chief United States District Judge for the Western District of Texas (San Antonio Division) Orlando L. Garcia granted Concentra Operating Corp.’s (Concentra) Motion to Dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Omar Weaver Rosales.  The lawsuit was just one of many filed, or threatened to be filed, by Mr. Rosales over physicians' and providers' websites.

Jim Harrington, a veteran civil rights attorney from Austin who himself spent decades fighting for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enforcement, says he knows of at least 20 instances around the state where Mr. Rosales has threatened lawsuits over physicians' and providers' websites. At least two dozen inquiries have come to TMA through the Knowledge Center and Office of the General Counsel."

This is about as close to a shakedown as you can get," Mr. Harrington said. "Rosales sends a draft of a suit, (often) with himself as plaintiff, to scare people into paying him $2,000. This is a perverted use of the ADA. The law was designed to help the disability community, not make lawyers rich."

Mr. Rosales already faces sanctions and a $176,000 fine imposed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, of Austin, over his actions against Mr. Harrington in hundreds of lawsuits he filed alleging violations of the ADA. In those cases, Mr. Rosales sued small businesses over parking lot violations. 

Judge Lane's sanction of Mr. Rosales included a referral to the Disciplinary Committee of the Western District of Texas. While the committee’s proceedings are confidential, physicians who feel Mr. Rosales’s actions toward them are relevant to this investigation may forward any materials received from Mr. Rosales to: 

 Karl Bayer
Chair, Disciplinary Committee of the Western District of Texas
14900 Avery Ranch Blvd., Ste. C200
Austin, TX 78717
karl[at]karlbayer[dot]com

 cc:   U.S. District Clerk
501 W. Fifth St., Ste. 1100
 Austin, TX 78701

Physicians who have complaints about frivolous or unethical demands made by any Texas attorney may consider filing a grievance with the State Bar of Texas. Grievances may be filed online or physicians may print a copy of the grievance form and mail or fax it to: 

Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel 
State Bar of Texas
P.O. Box 13287  
Austin, TX 78711  
Fax: (512) 427-4169  

A PDF of the grievance form is available online. More information about the State Bar of Texas’ Attorney complaint process is available on the State Bar website.

TMA's Office of General Counsel has identified several resources for medical practices concerning websites and ADA compliance. These include information from the U.S. Department of Justice, the  Employer Law Report, and  eMedia Law Insider. TMA staff use online checking services, such as Tenon.io, to check for potential ADA problems on the TMA website.

Legal articles in Action or on the TMA website are intended to help physicians understand the law by providing legal information on selected topics. These articles are published with the understanding that TMA is not engaged in providing legal advice. When dealing with specific legal matters, readers should seek assistance from their attorneys.

Revised - Feb. 27, 2017

Last Updated On

February 27, 2017

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