Hello! We are Star Donuts, a small family-owned donut shop in the city of Lakewood, California. Recently, a woman named Michelle Johnson and her Attorney Ross Cornell filed a lawsuit against us stating that we do not have a handicap parking spot in front of our business. The 5 spots in front of our business are compact spots, meaning that they are not suitable sizes for handicap parking at all. Even though we would like to put handicap spots, we have no control in doing so, and have to get permission from our landlord.
In our lease agreement, it is not our responsibility to make these types of changes. It is the landlords', as our parking lot is shared with all of the businesses, such as Denny's. The specific language states that the "lessor has exclusive control and management of the common area," meaning that our landlord is the one responsible for any changes in the parking lot. However, our landlord has been unresponsive and they want us to deal with everything.
Now that Star Donuts is in trouble, the landlord has stepped away and has pushed all of the responsibility onto us. This is not the first time that someone has brought up implementing handicap signs to the landlord but they wanted to wait it out.
We have also discovered that this is not Michelle Johnson's first time claiming that a business has not provided her accessibility. If you look here http://digihairshirt.blogspot.com/2012/08/michelle-johnson-plaintiff-on-mission.html, you can see that she has filed lawsuits against ALMOST A HUNDRED lawsuits all over California and asks for A $10,000 settlement for the case to disappear. Her attorney is also notorious, as he has been doing this for 13 years and has over 300+ cases all concerning ADA. Edit as of June 27, 2013: Please take a look at a link that has 131 more cases that involved Ross Cornell: http://www.legislativedisgrace.com/images/100220_-_131_Ross_Cornell_ADA_cases_-_State.pdf
If the above link doesn't work, you can download the file from our personal dropbox https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/92579858/131%20Ross%20Cornell%20Cases.pdf But that's not what we're trying to change, as we understand it's a difficult task. All we want is our landlord to be responsible and accountable.
We believe that we are not responsible for implementing the handicap parking signs, as our lease agreement gives our landlord "exclusive control and management of the common area." The lessor has, as the lease agreement states, "sole discretion" for railways, signage, parking lots, etc.
In short, all that we want is for our landlord to step up and help us against this lawsuit. We need as much support as we can get, and sincerely appreciate any and all of it. Thank you and PLEASE HELP US SAVE OUR BUSINESS!
Edit as of June 24, 2013: Star Donuts is overwhelmed to see everybody supporting us in this situation. Thank you for all of your support. The following is an UPDATE: This was the last email that Star Donuts received from the management before creating this petition:
We don't want to give any body troubles; we just want to know why the landlord doesn't act like other landlords who step up and help their tenants. They know they are responsible for ADA compliance In regards to parking. -Vernon (Star Donuts)
First of all This is my last response to any emails on this matter.
I know you are not trying to make trouble. I know this is not fair to you, but the fact of the matter is the plaintiff has the ability to sue to knowing full well that you have no control over the situation. That is one of the big reasons why I keep saying this law is poorly written. - Brent (Management)
This morning, the management came to the business and told us about the plan to implement more handicap parking spaces. Even though the ADA parking space issue is resolved, Star Donuts still has to deal with Michelle Johnson and her attorney. Star Donuts still needs all of your support with this lawsuit. Hopefully, your signatures and comments can help us get our lawsuit dismissed. Again thank you so much, Star Donuts
Edit as of June 28, 2013: We'd like to let you know that Star Donuts will be closing down as soon as our supplies run out because we do not want to deal with this kind of scam over and over again. We also do not want to deal with this kind of landlord.
Edit as of June 30, 2013: By request of all of our supporters, we are looking for ALL DEFENDANTS WHO HAVE BEEN SUED BY MICHELLE JOHNSON to countersue them. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!!!
Edit as of June 1, 2013:
Dear friends and supporters,
Please take a look at our good news from this morning:
RE: Closing the business
"Vernon, (Star Donuts)
Our attorney would like to speak with you. He is telling me that your restroom should not be an issue going forward. We would not want you to quit the business because you believe you will continue to get sued once the parking lot is corrected. Please call Paul
The landlord's attorney told my husband that our case will be dismissed.
Star Donuts believes it has to do with all of our supporters who helped us fight
this case. Also, Star Donuts would like to thank change.org for allowing us to create our petition on their website. Star Donuts also thanks a million to the Digihairshirt who created the blog to let the world know about this scammer. Lastly, Star Donuts would like to say a million thanks to all the supporters around the world. With all of your support, Star Donuts will remain open to serve the community!
- Michelle Johnson and her Attorney Ross Cornell
To Star Donuts' landlord,
We believe that Star Donuts is not responsible for implementing handicap signs in front of its business, since it is stated in their lease agreement with you that the lessor has "exclusive control and management of the common area." We want you to help Star Donuts in their lawsuit against Michelle Johnson and her Attorney Ross Cornell, and take responsibility for the contract that both parties mutually agreed on. Star Donuts should not have to settle and pay the plaintiff for something that it is, and never has been, responsible for.
Star Donuts started this petition with a single signature, and won with 1,134 supporters. Start a petition to change something you care about.