Caroline J. Berdzik, Co-Chair of Goldberg Segalla’s Labor and Employment Practice Group, was interviewed by the Express-Times on the uptick of lawsuits commenced by The Independence Project, a group that has filed more than 50 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-related lawsuits in New Jersey and Pennsylvania since 2012.
The practices of so-called “serial plaintiff” groups like The Independence Project has sparked a debate among those who see the lawsuits as commendable efforts to promote positive change and others who contend they are a money-grab by lawyers and others looking to take advantage of the laws.
Caroline noted the rise in lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey reflects the uptick both regionally and nationally of individuals and groups targeting shopping centers and retailers in particular.
“There seems to be a focus on the industry,” Caroline said. “With shopping centers, you have the actual public areas and the individual stores. There are a lot of different potential locations you could look at. … In my experience with these cases, I think the volume of them and the same plaintiffs almost always being named, even if a cause really is good, it can be overshadowed by the thought this has become a cottage industry not really meant to remedy the rights of a disabled individual.”