“As a result of all the legal fees associated with the lawsuit, we had no choice but to close the facility,” says Crystal Chodes, former marketing director for Basketball Town, a special events facility for basketball, volleyball, and other sporting events for children and families.
Basketball Town was forced to close because it could not afford the legal fees required to fight a lawsuit brought by a family member of a guest at a child’s birthday party hosted at the facility.
The facility hosted parties in two areas, one of which was on a mezzanine level.
“He invited one of his friends and that friend brought his uncle, who is in a wheelchair,” says Crystal. “Once we found out through the family that one of the guests expected was in a wheelchair, we actually offered to move the party downstairs and they declined. As a result, months later we were served with a lawsuit.”
Despite the lawsuit, the facility contended that it was, in fact, in compliance with the law regulating handicapped access for its patrons.
But compliance didn’t matter when the cost to defend oneself against a lawsuit overwhelmed the company’s bottom line. Basketball Town was forced to close its doors. The closure also came at a cost to the small business on the premises.
“There was a family pizzeria here and they had invested all of their money into this, they had their family involved in it, and now the facility’s closed,” says Crystal. “They have two kids that they’ve got to put through college. Just a small business, a great family, and they have lost everything – they’re starting over.”
She says: “If it can close an entire facility that’s meant to benefit children and families, it can hurt anyone. And that has to stop.”
Editor’s Note: California Senate Bill 1608 now provides a mandatory mediation alternative to litigation (with certain pre-conditions) to help prevent this exact thing from happening to other businesses.
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