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San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin Investigates Possibly Frivolous ADA Lawsuits Targeting Chinatown Merchants

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s office is launching an investigation after his office said several Chinatown merchants were hit by potentially fake lawsuits and so-called “demand letters.”

According to Boudin’s office, the lawsuits appear to come from lawyers who say the businesses did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“They are exploited and extorting small businesses,” Boudin said at a briefing Wednesday. “Not to vindicate the critical rights or inclusion of the disabled, but rather to shake down and extort those who are already suffering in the wake of a horrific pandemic and a wave of anti-Asian and anti-Chinese hate across this country.”

Boudin said that Chinatown merchants were no more likely to violate the ADA than any other business owner in the city.

Edward Siu of the Chinatown Merchants United Association also spoke at Wednesday’s briefing and said, “The lawsuits target hardworking, monolingual, mom-and-pop stores located in the country’s oldest and largest Chinatown. Many are still struggling through this pandemic.”

The district attorney went on to say, “We are concerned that potentially frivolous lawsuits not only fail to promote accessibility or disability rights, but instead force businesses to either shut down or provide payouts to lawyers who have no interest in promoting disability rights.”

Boudin urged business owners who believe they have been victimized by the lawsuits to come forward and contact the DA’s office Consumer Protection and Fraud Hotline at 628-652-4311.

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