Bonnie Kramer has been a plaintiff in more than 100 Americans with Disabilities Act suits, but she has rarely, if ever, been subjected to the kind of extensive discovery requests that The Mid-America Management Corp.‘s lawyers at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey have put her through in her case against the real estate management company. Her inexperience shows. In an opinion dated Aug. 20, Cleveland Federal District Court Judge Donald Nugent granted Midamco’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed Kramer’s claims, citing evidence provided by Squire Sanders that contradicted a host of statements Kramer made at her deposition.
The case is not over, however. In an earlier decision, Judge Nugent ruled that Midamco can proceed with a counterclaim against Kramer, her lawyers, her expert witness and an organization Kramer purported to be affiliated with called Disabled Patriots of America, which had been a co-plaintiff in the case. Midamco is alleging abuse of process, fraud, civil conspiracy to commit fraud, spoliation and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations.
Kramer and DPA first filed the case back in October 2007. Kramer, a self-styled “tester” who visits public buildings and facilities to assess their compliance with the ADA, was allegedly unable to access the Solon Square Shopping Center in Solon, Ohio, in her wheelchair. In discovery, Midamco asked for financial records of DPA, which promptly requested to be dismissed from the action. Last fall, after Kramer testified in a deposition that she was at certain locations inside the mall when records showed otherwise, Midamco filed its counterclaims.
The suits filed by Kramer, DPA, and other similar organizations have generated a fair amount of controversy in recent years. Critics see the litigation as a racket for plaintiffs lawyers. Jeff Wedel of Squire Sanders, who represents Midamco, says he hopes to lay bare the organizations behind the suits.
“I’m going to be interested to see where the cash is generated and where it’s flowing,” Wedel told the Litigation Daily.
Thomas Bacon, an attorney who was hired to defend Kramer and DPA against the counterclaims after their original attorneys were conflicted out, called Judge Nugent’s decision “unfortunate” and said he was still considering his clients’ next moves.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Litigation Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.