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North Coast businesses rally in opposition to Eureka attorney's practice
The Humboldt County Courthouse was full of movement Friday as people rallied in opposition to Jason Singleton’s law practice. Singleton has sued upwards of 250 businesses for not being in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
"It does make me personally upset because I grew up in community and in this county and to see these guys come in here and destroy all these small businesses is just not right," James Blount said.
Blount organized the rally outside the courthouse. He said that Jason K. Singleton is a 'small business killer.' Blount believes that Singleton is taking advantage of the system for profit, rather than helping people with disabilities.
"Nobody told him— said ‘you're in violation of this right here, why don't you guys fix this up and we'll come back and have a look?’ No, they just throw the lawsuit on," Blount said.
Porter Street Barbecue in Arcata was one of the most recent businesses to be sued. Owner Scott Seeley said he had to close his doors in November after settling for $8,000.
"Going to court— who knows how much that would have cost,” Seeley said. “So we just settled. I just settled to get out from under it."
He adds that the only notice he got was a generic letter that didn’t explain why his business was incompliant.
"Why wouldn't somebody just come up and say 'hey I had a problem,’ so I could address the situation," Seeley said.
Stu Russell was at the protest and said he has a disability. He believes the point of the act is to make accommodations for people.
"The first thing you do if you have a problem is to talk to the owner,” Russell said. “You don't go to an attorney and start a lawsuit where it's the first time the business owner knows about it."
Russell adds that what Singleton is doing is offensive.
"This guy isn't trying to solve a problem,” Russell said. “He's trying to line his pockets."
We reached out to Singleton on the matter and even talked to him briefly on the phone, but lost connection. He didn’t return calls or a request for a statement. Meanwhile, the protester’s statement is clear:
"Hopefully Jason Singleton will have a second look before he files more suits here and he'll just lay off for a while until we get something fixed up,” Blount said.