SAN FRANCISCO — A disabled woman suing a California hotel over claims of discrimination has filed dozens of lawsuits in that state and others in Arizona.
Theresa Brooke, who is from Arizona, most recently claimed the Liberty Inn Bakersfield failed to comply with the national and state standards in designing accessible parking spots.
But Brooke is better known for filing suits against hotels over the lack of pool lifts for disabled individuals, including 70 over a six-week period in 2016.
All of those claims of American Disabilities Act violations were dismissed by a federal judge, largely because she had not visited any of the hotels.
Brooke, who uses a wheelchair, is represented in this most recent case and in others by Phoenix attorney Peter Kristopher Strojnik, who has been involved in many suits alleging violations of the ADA.
Julie Griffiths of the California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse said she is well aware of both the attorney, Peter Kristopher Strojnik, and the plaintiff.
"His clients file against hotels and motels, particularly focusing on pools and pool lifts," Griffiths told the Northern California Record.
"I spoke with a small hotel owner who received one of these suits," Griffiths said. "But they cannot afford to go to court to fight it. 99.9 percent of these small businesses cannot afford the court process."
Griffiths said the issue of serial litigation over alleged disability discrimination is much worse in California because of a separate state law where plaintiffs can ask for more money.
Brooke, who requires a wheelchair, filed a complaint Dec. 7 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging violations of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When contacted, Strojnik, who runs the Strojnik Law Firm LLC, which is listed in the court documents, immediately told the Record not to confuse him with his father, also named Peter Strojnik. Business records show that Peter Kristopher Strojnik is the agent for the Strojnik Law Firm.
But in three separate calls, the younger Strojnik refused to explain further or answer questions about the suit filed by Brooke.
The State Bar of Arizona website lists Peter Kristopher Strojnik as currently suspended, though he is listed by the California bar as still active.
The elder Strojnik is linked to the group Advocates for Individuals with Disabilities (AID), which was criticized by disability-rights groups for filing multiple lawsuits against hotels.
Arizona state attorneys in December filed a motion in federal court to label Peter Strojnik a “vexatious litigant” and limit his ability to file new lawsuits, according to ABC15 News in Phoenix, which also reported he has filed nearly 2,000 in recent years. His firm is Strojnik PC, according to business records.
The motion states that the move is necessary to protect the “District Court of Arizona and the public from Mr. Strojnik’s abusive and bad-faith litigation practices.”
The most recent suit claims that while Brooke was in the parking lot she found there was no label displayed highlighting that a parking spot was accessible for disabled people and that she could not navigate from her spot to the access aisle due to the steepness of the slope.