Ms. Wheelchair America and Serial ADA Litigation
The Post-Crescent has learned the Florida law firm that sued Fox River Valley businesses filed more than 200 suits in recent years for people connected to Ms. Wheelchair America. Among the suits were two dozen filed locally since December on Hackel’s behalf.
Federal court records reviewed by The Post-Crescent show the lawsuits, by Hollywood, Fla.-based Schwartz Zweben & Associates, were filed in at least seven states and the District of Columbia. At least 13 former Ms. Wheelchair America affiliates, including state and national titleholders, state coordinators and pageant judges were among the plaintiffs.
The law firm has not been accused of doing anything illegal. And leaders of the firm and the national pageant defend their associations, including the firm’s role as one of the pageant’s chief sponsors, as a reflection of their mutual concern for the rights of people with disabilities.
“We’re not going to deny that we have clients that are affiliated with the pageant, but the fact is we don’t go there to solicit clients,” Gene Zweben, a managing partner at the law firm, said. “We are a supporter because we believe in what the pageant stands for.”