Poolmageddon: Trial Lawyers Might Get $45 Million Back from Obama AdministrationBy: Heather Campobello - March 14, 2012
Eric Holder is one of the leaders of President Obama’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and he has been issuing “guidelines” that businesses must follow to comply with a multitude of the nation’s civil rights laws. Holder has been proactive about the issue ever since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in 1990.
The Examiner provided a good example of a guideline so that readers could understand the general idea: If a restaurant bathroom has a light switch that is 52 inches above the floor, then that business is in compliance. But if the light switch is 53 inches above the floor, the restaurant owner is a civil rights violator subject to fines from the government and liable for civil damages from any disabled individual who ever used the bathroom.
In September 2010, the DOJ issued a new rule that requires all public access swimming pools to supply a lift that is suitable for transporting disabled patrons from their wheelchairs into the water. This means that if a resort has multiple pools and spas, there must be a permanently fixed lift for at least one spa, and one pool.
This guideline will direct owners to make costly modifications to their facilities: “each lift costs between $3,000 and $10,000 and installation can add $5,000 to $10,000 to the total.”
All 300,000 public pools in the United States must install a permanent fixed lift by tomorrow, March 15, and the entire prospect is impossible. Industry spokesmen state that there are not enough lifts in existence and certainly not enough people who know how to install them.
Some are calling this transformative event “Poolmageddon.”
Considering that major hotels and other public pool owners lack the resources to make the changes on time the DOJ has decided not to fine companies right away. But hotel chains like the Ramada Inn are not in the clear because the ADA has been encouraging disabled people to sue companies that have failed to comply with guidelines.
Poolmageddon may lead to another payday for trial lawyers and their clients.
Kevin Maher, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the American Hotel & Lodging Association said these groups “often file lawsuits against every business in the community. A lot of times they are not even looking for businesses to comply with the ADA, they are just looking for a quick cash settlement to go away,” and went on to explain that these guidelines will be enforced through litigation as opposed to government fines.
Another concern about the lifts is that they attract children to play on them and create safety hazards. Many businesses do not have a lifeguard on duty and injuries to children are likely ro create more opportunities for trial lawyers to line their pockets.
Trial lawyers gave President Obama more than $45 million in 2008 and Poolmageddon has been raising suspicion that there have been some dirty dealings going on.