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October 6, 2021
The Law Office of Hakimi & Shahriari is proud to announce a major victory for the disabled community at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals: a civil rights win, which included a bill to defendants in excess of $75,000.
In the matter of Smith v. 116 S. Market LLC, the wheelchair bound plaintiff, obtained a summary judgment victory at the trial level which included $12,000 in Unruh damages, $32,361.25 in attorney fees and costs and injunctive relief requiring the removal of architectural barriers to access at the Highspot Dispensary in Inglewood, California. The defendant owns the property where the Highspot Dispensary is located.
On Appeal, the defendant argued that that mandatory compliance with the ADA would force the defendant to facilitate plaintiff’s access to marijuana and therefore abet violations of the Controlled Substances Act. In a strongly worded opinion, the Ninth Circuit rejected this argument, stating:
“The district court’s order does no such thing. First, the order is silent as to marijuana use. The order merely requires that the Defendant comply with its obligations under the ADA. Second, the Defendant misapplies James v. City of Costa Mesa, 700 F.3d 394 (9th Cir. 2012). James interpreted standing provisions under Title II of the ADA, but Smith’s challenge arises under Title III. James also limited its holding to “medical marijuana users who claim to face discrimination on the basis of their marijuana use.” 700 F.3d at 397 n.3. Smith does not allege discrimination on the basis of any marijuana use, his or otherwise.”
The Ninth Circuit awarded plaintiff an additional $31,993.1 in attorney fees and costs, thereby bringing the total damages, fees and costs payable to $76,354.35.
This is a major victory for the disabled. It is also sends a strong message to wealthy violators of the ADA some view as “slumlords” of business properties. The lawyers for corporate defendants need to go back to the proverbial drawing board.
Anoush Hakimi, Esq. and Peter Shahriari, Esq. of The Law Office of Hakimi & Shahriari, and Russell Handy, Esq. of Potter Handy LLP represented plaintiff in this matter.
The defendant was represented by Stephen Abraham, Esq. of Law Offices of Stephen E. Abraham and Melissa Daugherty, Esq. of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP.
One of California’s preeminent plaintiffs’ law firms, Hakimi & Shahriari is known for the protection of individual civil rights, especially in the face of corrupt people and policies. Being known as a plaintiffs’ law firm that will aggressively prosecute a matter through to conclusion has created respect for the firm by most defense counsel and thereby early resolution of most matters.