LODI (CBS13) – A lawyer known for suing businesses that, he says, are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act is now being sued for the same reason.
The people suing Russell Humphrey call him a hypocrite for not having ADA-compliant access to his business, but the lawyer is firing back saying the lawsuit is revenge for when his client sued them.
“This is just a matter of law. We didn’t write the law,” said James McCarty.
But Humphrey says “this is litigation about revenge.”
This back-and-forth battle began years ago when Humphrey brought a lawsuit against Town and Country Liquor, owned by McCarty.
“Their property in Lockeford was literally the worst property we’d come across,” said Humphrey.
McCarty says he made the necessary changes, but the lawsuit lingered. So he and his brother tried to visit the Lodi lawyer last year.
“March the 14th and March the 30th, we tried two times,” said McCarty.
The key word is “tried.” The McCartys, both elderly and disabled, claim they couldn’t get to Humphrey, alleging the ADA lawyer’s building, where he leases an office on the second floor, wasn’t handicapped accessible.
“We found a number of ADA violations that were the same violations he was suing us for,” said McCarty.
So the brothers decided to slap Humphrey with a lawsuit of their own.
However, Humphrey doesn’t feel he is a hypocrite as the brothers claim. He says he told the building owners about multiple ADA issues when he moved in two years ago.
“I acted proactively to bring this property into compliance. To me that’s not hypocritical,” said Humphrey.
But McCarty claims those adjustments were not in place when he tried to visit Humphrey’s office.
Changes have been made since the McCartys’ visits in March, bringing the property into what Humphrey calls substantial compliance. He calls any remaining issues very minor.
“I believe there are some small signage-type issues in the parking lot,” said Humphrey.
The McCartys want Humphrey and the building owners to become fully ADA compliant and Humphrey to take ethics classes for “abusive tactics and hypocrisy.” Humphrey says he’s quite confident he’ll prevail in court.
The McCartys also demand that the ADA lawyer gives them a written apology for emotional distress caused when they were sued by Humphrey’s client.