MARYSVILLE, CA - Several local business owners are upset after three different lawsuits accused them of not being in compliance with the American Disabilities Act (ADA).
But they're not necessarily upset over the compliance issue - they're more upset about what they call extortion.
George Louie, of West Sacramento, filed the lawsuits in Yolo County Court just before the turn of the New Year.
The lawsuits cite the Budget Inn Hotel and Gary's Place Bar & Grill in Marysville as two businesses without handicapped parking.
Budget Inn owner Hasmukl Patel immediately added a handicapped space to his parking lot, then called Louie.
"He said that was not all, he said 'You're going to have to pay something'. I said, 'How much' and he said 'I'll give you the holiday special for $5,000,'" according to Patel.
Patel said Louie only agreed to the "holiday special" if he paid the money that day. The hotel owner declined.
Kim Spinella, owner of Gary's Place Bar & Grill, had no idea who George Louie was until she was served with the lawsuit.
"You Google his name and look what you find -- all this extortion of money from people," she said.
"If he was doing for it for a different cause, if business owners could take that money and fix, make the lives better for handicapped people, then that would be a little bit different," Spinella said.
A liquor and market store across the street from the Budget Inn was also served the same lawsuit, making the business owners believe this is a drive-by-lawsuit.
George Louie is no stranger to lawsuits, nor lawsuits of this kind.
In 1998 he sued a Bay Area school. Then in 2005 he filed two other disability lawsuits in Sacramento County, although his former lawyer told News10 there are "definitely more".
Claudia Hollis of the Marysville FREED Center for Independent Living said, unfortunately, lawsuits like these are common and ruin the intent of the ADA.
"It just creates a difficult situation," she said. "If you really have an access issue and you wanted to file a complaint, you could and say let's work together, not sue them."
In the meantime, Patel is still working to make sure every aspect of his hotel is ADA compliant. But he has no plans to pay off Louie.
"No I don't have $5,000 to pay him like that," he said.
Several messages to Louie have gone unanswered.
By Nick Monacelli, firstname.lastname@example.org