High court won’t hear serial litigator’s appeal

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WASHINGTON — A paralyzed man who has sued hundreds of businesses over
accommodations for the disabled lost his Supreme Court appeal this week
challenging a court order that requires him to get special permission to file
new lawsuits.

Jarek Molski has been labeled a “vexatious litigant” by federal courts in
California because he has filed roughly 400 lawsuits alleging that restaurants
and other businesses are in violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities
Act. Molski is paralyzed from the chest down and uses a wheelchair.

On Nov. 17, the justices rejected his case, Molski v. Evergreen Dynasty
08-38, without comment.

Molski frequently complains about the lack of handicapped van parking,
counters that are too high, narrow doorways and grab-bars installed too high or
low in bathrooms. In addition, he often says he was injured in the course of his
visit. Targeted business owners often have settled out of court rather than pay
attorneys and take the time to fight the lawsuits.

A federal judge in Los Angeles described the lawsuits as extortion. The San
Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling that Molski
was an abusive litigant, although it noted that many of the establishments he
sued probably were violating federal law.

“On the other hand, the district court had ample basis to conclude that
Molski trumped up his claims of injury,” a three-judge panel of the appeals
court said in its August
2007 ruling.

In April, the full 9th Circuit refused to hear the case. However, nine judges
dissented, raising First Amendment concerns.

“The First Amendment right to ‘petition the Government for a redress of
grievances’ — which includes the filing of lawsuits — is ‘one of “the most
precious of the liberties safeguarded by the Bill of Rights,”’” the judges said. “Consequently, a determination that a litigant has repeatedly
filed frivolous and harassing lawsuits itself implicates his First Amendment
interest in access to the courts.”