ADA lawyer goes after Nazareth Ice Oasis

This story was originally printed in the Post on Jan. 24.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

The attorney who sued the Dutch Goose in west Menlo Park and the Canyon Inn in Redwood City, claiming that they didn’t meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, is now suing Nazareth Ice Oasis in Redwood City.

The lawsuit has caused the rink at 3140 Bay Road to close its upstairs grill, Nazareth’s Asset Management Director Michael Ohayon confirmed.

Marva Samuel, who uses a walker due to her osteoarthritis and a degenerative disc disease, visited the ice rink on Nov. 18 with her family, according to the suit.

In the suit, Samuel says she and her granddaughter wanted to eat at the upstairs grill, but found out there was no elevator to get her upstairs.

Samuel asked an employee if there was a way to get up the stairs, when the employee told her that the stairs were her only option, she said “What about the Americans with Disabilities Act?” the suit claims.

The employee allegedly said that the building was immune to the ADA because it was built before the law started.
Samuel’s family members ended up shuttling food from the upstairs grill to her, as she stayed on the rink’s first floor.

“As a woman who prides herself on her independence, having to rely on her grandchildren to help feed her was embarrassing,” the lawsuit states.

Ohayon said that the interaction captured in the lawsuit does not sound like anything the rink’s employees would say, nor is it what Nazareth instructs employees to say when they get similar questions.

Closing rink a possibility

Ohayon said that keeping the grill open and installing an elevator is “cost prohibitive,” but since Samuel also says that the bathrooms, parking lot and bleachers in the downstairs view area are inaccessible, Nazareth has to determine what to do with the rink — spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix it up, or closing it.

Samuel’s attorney, Oakland-based Pail Rein, is the same lawyer who with another client, Gerardo Hernandez, sued the Fish Market in San Mateo, Canada College, the Dutch Goose and Canyon Inn, among many others.
Rein and Samuel have also sued a gym in Antioch.

The Dutch Goose went through an extensive remodel in 2016, costing upwards of $1 million, after Hernandez’s lawsuit claiming the restaurant wasn’t ADA compliant.

In the lawsuit, Hernandez claims he visited the Dutch Goose on May 16, 2013, and had difficulty getting around. He claims to have even suffered “an extremely humiliating bodily functions accident” when he couldn’t get to the men’s room at the Dutch Goose.

And this isn’t the first time that Nazareth has faced an ADA lawsuit. On Feb. 8, quadriplegic attorney Scott Johnson filed a lawsuit against Nazareth’s 76 gas station, at 275 El Camino Real.

Rein and Johnson have filed numerous lawsuits in the state, according to online U.S. District Court records.
In 2015, 70% of the ADA suits filed in California were brought by just six law firms, according to the Northern California Record, a website funded by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

11 Comments

  1. @Hockey, you can’t expect any newspaper to recite all the law associated with ADA. The statutes and cases would fill thousands of pages. I don’t think a reporter would know whether an establishment should have an elevator or not. That’s a complicated question with a lot of variables. It’s not something we would expect a journalist to pass judgment on. Many lawyers couldn’t make that call correctly. And that’s the problem with the ADA — it’s not straightforward and easy to understand. It’s complex, which means everybody has to get a lawyer to help them. The ADA has been good to the legal industry, providing employment to lawyers who might otherwise have no careers.

  2. As a Certified Access Specialist it is my job to resolve these types of issues every day. There is no need to close the rink nor villainize the disabled community for needing a little accommodation. The truth is few businesses make any effort at proactive compliance or these issues would be long resolved. I am happy to help anybody who wants to do the right thing, even some pro bono work. My CASp# is 546 and I can be found through the California DSA website.

  3. Obviously that Rain & Samuel is a gold digger. Samuel is disable person and looking for sport fasility in bay aria for sue them.Disable person should spend time with grandkids not with lawyers and driving hundred of miles in car for looking of new lawsuit from Antoch to Redwood City

  4. I wonder if Marva Samuel knows the impact this will have on residents up and down the peninsula. Does she know how many kids learn to figure skate at Ice Oasis? How many hockey teams work out there? Does she know about all the birthday parties? What about all the young couples who go there on dates? Did she think about the people who work there before filing the lawsuit?

    And does she really believe all the damage done by suing is worth it just because she was embarrassed by not being able to get up the stairs?

    • I second that. Look what one person is causing. How many places are ADA compliant that they could have eaten at! There is no where close for people to ice skate anymore; Belmont Iceland was closed 2 years ago!

  5. I will third this, though I imagine there are several orders of magnitude more than 3 of us who would do the same. With recent rink closures in the area and explosive population growth, skating coaches and their teams and students are now either driven out of the sport or forced to spend half their day on the road to get to the few and far between rinks left in the Bay Area. Meanwhile the thickness of crowds at rinks on weekends and holidays make conditions pretty much unskateable for anyone developing skills. Re the disabilities access, as another commenter here has pointed out, surely there are compromises that can be made that would keep Ice Oasis in business and be acceptable to any reasonable person with disabilities. I do hope that the judge presiding over the case will recognize that Rain&Samuel have a history of at best making an income stream for themselves out of ADA, and at worst egregiously abusing it, and that, especially in this case the damage to the community done by killing Ice Oasis far surpasses any gain to anyone, even to Rain&Samuel… who after all, ought to be rich enough by now anyway, thanks to all their previous lawsuits. For the record, Ice Oasis DOES have a wide-access-with-handrail stall in their ladies room, and parking with the wheelchair logo. And the patrons and staff their are nice enough that anyone would have been more than happy to run upstairs and get MS. Samuel a burger or whatever had she asked, explaining she was too embarrassed to ask her granddaughter.

  6. It is sad that the spirit and intent of the ADA is abused the way it is in today’s society. These professional plaintiff’s should be ashamed of themselves. Ms. Eshoo should actually do something in Congress. Perhaps she could propose an amendment to the ADA requiring that businesses allegedly violating the ADA be given notice of non-compliance with a period to comply before a lawsuit could be commenced. The law should also be amended to require that any actions brought under the ADA be done by the US Attorney’s Office to ensure the elimination of these mills that do nothing but troll for ADA lawsuits with its current system of award of attorneys’ fees.

  7. A quick search of the local court websites show that Ms Samuel has been the plaintiff in at least 7 lawsuits in San Mateo County, 1 lawsuit in San Francisco County (a cross complainant) , and 2 prior federal ADA lawsuits: one against EZ 8 Motels filed in San Jose (which she settled out of court) and one against Fitness International in Antioch, which is pending because she filed that lawsuit 3 months before she filed the one against the ice rink. Samuel alleges some of the same complaints against Fitness as she does against the ice rink, and even makes some complaints to which should be mutually exclusive: in the Fitness complaint she says she was in a wheelchair and couldn’t open a heavy door because she has a “shoulder disability from previous injury” yet in the ice rink, she was using a walker. She was also “humiliated” and “embarrassed” to “rely on a stranger for help.” The same lawyers filed both lawsuits.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.