PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Leslie Dunn owns the Calla Lily Inn in Palm Springs. The boutique hotel, built in the 1950s, has nine rooms and nine parking spots.
Her business is among at least four small Palm Springs hotels, including the Del Marcos Hotel and Chase Hotel, getting sued by Chris Langer, of San Diego, for not having handicapped accessible parking available on their property.
Dunn said she's never met or seen Langer, who's a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around.
"I basically did my homework on him and saw he was doing this well over a decade, suing businesses, hundreds of businesses in San Diego," said Dunn.
The lawsuit claims Langer wanted to stay at her hotel back in March, but it didn't have a parking space compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. Other hotel owners on Belardo Road said they're getting sued for the same issue and were surprised to discover Langer has a reputation for filing lawsuits.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Langer has the right to sue.
"I think he just drove by, saw who didn't have handicapped parking and slapped them with a lawsuit," said Dunn.
We tried calling Langer's attorney, Mark Potter, for a comment, but only got an automated message saying he was not accepting calls at the time.
Dunn consulted with National Paving to see what could be done to include an accessible parking spot and accommodate her guests not using it. She was told it's going to be very difficult to make her lot ADA compliant and not expand on city property.
Dunn said she's prepared to pay as much as $13,000 in damage and attorney fees to settle the suit, instead of the estimated $20,000 to defend herself in court.
She wants to put a stop to the man making a living of suing small businesses such as hers.
The Small Hotels of Palm Springs group is working with city attorney Doug Holland to see what can be done to protect their small properties, which they believed were protected by city laws.