Days after Ann Kinner's October 7 online posting of a video — in which she spoke about being sued twice over wheelchair access at Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts at 1254 Scott Street — the handicap parking sign in front of her business was damaged for the second time.
Seabreeze is protected within Point Loma's historical district, and Kinner says judges from both state and federal courts ruled in the mid-2000s that her business didn’t have to provide wheelchair access. The owner of the building, however, decided to ask the city for a handicap parking space after the first lawsuit, and in 2006 the city installed a space and sign.
About two months ago, someone's car struck the sign, bending it slightly. But the most recent incident created a safety issue, Kinner said.
“Last week someone bent it completely to the ground. Now it’s a hazard, and down where you wouldn’t see it,” Kinner said. The sign had remained undamaged for at least seven years, and she believes the damage was vandalism but said she doubts it had anything to do with her associations.
Kinner is the vice chair of the National Federation of Independent Business, and since 2008 has been active in advocating against abusive lawsuits. Although she won what she calls “drive-by ADA lawsuits,” where two attorneys sued on behalf of disabled individuals, it cost her $10,000 in attorney fees.
“None of the people who complained had even been into the store,” she said.
Kinner is also affiliated with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) and was asked to tell her video story for the October campaign that recognizes Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week.
Maryann Marino, a director with CALA, said that the organization has shone the spotlight on people who have been victims of unwarranted lawsuits where, for example, they were sued because a mirror was too high or a toilet too low.
“Those are the kind of unwarranted lawsuits that can wipe out a business,” Marino said.