In Days Before The Internet

Food

Kimberly Block's ADA lawsuit against Squeeze Inn might have ended differently.

The Sacramento woman who sued the tiny Squeeze Inn hamburger restaurant over its lack of wheelchair access has dropped her lawsuit.

Kimberly Block, 41, filed a civil rights complaint July 6 against the Squeeze Inn under the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the lawsuit, Block claimed she suffered "embarrassment and humiliation" when she tried to eat there last November.

For reasons set forth in our previous post and comments on the topic, Block's suit seemed a classic shakedown, the sort of abuse of a well-meant law which gives a bad odor to anyone who attempts to use it for legitimate purposes.  While I support the idea behind the Americans With Disabilities Act, abusive or ill-founded suits like those filed by Block (her fourth this year) and individuals like Thomas Mundy give me, and many others, pause about the law.

Still, the internet does get the word out.  When the ADA was enacted, the internet was limited to people who could afford dollars a minute for access, or university systems.   A suit like that filed by Block and her attorney, Jason Singleton of Eureka California, would have proceeded in silence with barely a voice raised in protest.  And months later, people in and out of Sacramento would wonder whatever happened to the cramped cheeseburger joint on Fruitridge Road?

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White

4 Comments

3 Comments

  1. BP  •  Aug 20, 2009 @1:33 pm

    I don't know that this had all that much to do with the internet getting the word out as opposed to keeping the word out. Every internet comment on the story seemed to link to classic media sources — either the Sac Bee article or the local TV pieces. The Squeeze Inn is locally famous, and this is probably what prompted the local news coverage. I can't agree that nobody would have noticed the lawsuit if not for the internet.

    On the other hand, before the internet, if you missed the TV or newspaper story … you missed it. Somebody who had seen or read it might have mentioned it to you, but there was no real permanence to the local coverage. Blogs like this one are able to alert more people to what's going on, but not through any inherent power of their own. Rather, it's largely because of the permanent, on-line homes of local newspaper and TV stories which can be linked to.

    And we of course know that ADA shakedowns are still occurring with regularity throughout the state. The internet isn't preventing those suits from happening. So the difference here is not the existence of the internet, but rather the famous nature of the targeted business, and the owner telling local press that he may have to shut his doors. The internet helped, sure, but the lesson here is not "Internet Helps Stop Silly ADA Suit." It's "Don't Target Famous Small Businesses at your ADA Filing Mill."

    Mr. Singletary should be investigated by the state bar. The only reason I can see that his client would drop this suit is under pressure from him due to a feared backlash from continued negative publicity. He doesn't want a suit against the Squeeze Inn to drum up so much negative commentary that the law is changed. What would he do for a living then? He has instead given up on recovering for his client's injury in this case in order to ensure continuation of his own lucrative business into the future.

  2. Gary  •  Aug 21, 2009 @9:59 am

    That's good to hear. Does this mean the original Squeeze Inn is still open. I was planning to drive up there from L.A. before it relocated to sample the grub. This gives me some more time.

  3. gbasden  •  Aug 22, 2009 @5:29 pm

    I was just in there for lunch last week. Given how superb the food is, I'm very glad to know that they aren't being threatened by the lawsuit anymore.

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