Las Vegas Sun

October 19, 2019

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Serial litigants sue Harrah’s over ADA issues

Las Vegas Sign

Steve Marcus

A view of Harrah’s Las Vegas on the Las Vegas Strip Friday, March 13, 2015.

A disabled person with a history of suing businesses in Las Vegas has filed an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit against Harrah’s Las Vegas.

Robert P. Spretnak, a Las Vegas attorney listed on the court documents, filed the federal suit Sunday on behalf of Michele Joseph in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The lawsuit alleges that Harrah’s has multiple violations of the ADA involving parking, accessible routes to the business from parking, access to goods and services, public restrooms, guest rooms, and policies and procedures.

Representatives from Caesars Entertainment, which owns and operates Harrah’s, declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying it is company policy not to discuss pending litigation.

Spretnak, who said he is not the lead attorney on the suit, added that he is “happy to play his part to help” address these issues to aid handicapped people. Owen B. Dunn Jr., of Toledo, Ohio, also listed in court documents, is the lead attorney, Spretnak said. A phone call to Dunn was not returned before this report was posted.

The lawsuit describes Joseph as a "tester," someone who enters businesses with the specific intent of “discovering, encountering and engaging discrimination against the disabled in public accommodations.”

Joseph, Mark Allison and an organization to which they belonged called the American Patriots Advocating for Disabled Rights have been involved in a number of similar lawsuits in the Las Vegas area through the years.

In a search of a federal court database from Jan. 1, 2001, through Monday, the American Patriots Advocating for Disabled Rights is listed as a plaintiff in eight cases. Both Joseph and Allison are listed in several others for that same time period.

In May 2010, the group sued Budget Suites of America. In 2008, the group made similar allegations against Palace Station. Also in 2008, it sued the Super 8 Motel in North Las Vegas.

Federal court records also show that American Patriots reached out-of-court settlements of similar complaints it lodged against the Las Vegas Hilton, Blockbuster Video (9240 W. Sahara Ave.) and three rental suite facilities in Las Vegas owned by L.A. Wilshire Corp.

In documents as part of the Budget Suites lawsuit, attorneys for Budget Suites described the group as “professional litigants that have created a cottage industry by exploiting Congress’ well-intentioned statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, into an income-producing mechanism.”

Spretnak said it is not unusual for disabled people to run into access problems in multiple places and said “there is very little money to be made in these lawsuits."

Neither Allison nor American Patriots Advocating for Disabled Rights is a party to this most recent suit against Harrah’s.

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