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Hillcrest bombarded with civil rights lawsuits

Hillcrest businesses accused of violating civil rights laws.

Restaurant owners in Hillcrest are trying to understand why one San Diego attorney is suing them for violations he alleges disregard the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s accessibility laws reports ABC 10 San Diego.

Ben Nicholls, Executive Director of the Hillcrest Business Association (HBA) is worried that these lawsuits will have a severe  impact on local businesses and harm the livelihood of the community.

“A lawsuit like this can really just put them out of business," Nicholls told the news station.

"They’ve gotten this complaint and it doesn't list very much in the way of specifics,” he adds.

When asked which areas of Hillcrest are being most hit by the lawsuits, Nicholls says it’s not one concentrated area, and they appear to be “almost random.”

John Turner is representing one business owner being sued and says his client wants to resolve the allegations.

"From a business standpoint you almost have to look at what is the least expensive way to get out of this situation,” he said.

"When they get sued they are frustrated because they think they've done the right thing, and frankly some of the cases I've looked at, they have.”

La Jolla based lawfirm attorney Ted Shin is the one serving Hillcrest business owners with the suits.

ABC 10 says last February they uncovered a similar lawsuit filed by Shin, in which, “every one of the claims alleging things the premises lacked were false.”

It is reported that Shin has eight different clients he is representing in the cases and since January of 2016, they have filed more than 200 civil rights lawsuits across the county.

Shin will not comment on the matter and neither will the plaintiffs after  being investigated by the local news team.  Edwin Dally, the plaintiff in a case against "Crest Cafe," wouldn't open his door after being pressed for a statement. 

"What happens now is you get blindsided,” Turner said. “You get served by a process server with a lawsuit.”

Rather than taking business owners to court, Turner suggests that allowing them to know what they are being accused of beforehand and giving them a “cure period,” would be a better solution.

Nicholls said, "There are some restaurants that need to do better, absolutely, but there are other restaurants that have been sued in the past and have fixed their problems and they got sued, so it really makes no sense."

Some business owners are employing the help of an access specialist to figure out if the lawsuits are warranted or not.