In the News: Ward III Is Reopening Soon

••• “Five New Yorkers in wheelchairs are behind nearly 400 lawsuits brought against small businesses for lacking handicap access. Such legal claims have been criticized as part of a ‘cottage industry’ of ‘serial plaintiffs’ who target mom-and-pop establishments for quick cash settlements. […] Plaintiffs typically ask for modest damages but demand payment of their attorneys’ fees, which can top $20,000. [Attorney Dennis] Kearney believes the plaintiffs and lawyers split the fees.” I know of five Tribeca businesses that have been targeted in this way. I’m all for access for the disabled, but you’d have to be a Pollyanna to think that this is about anything other than making money off of someone else’s back. What these people are doing to small businesses is morally repugnant, bordering on extortion. (The threat: Settle or I’ll sue.) Why can’t politicians do something to protect the businesses, which are already up against the wall? Many are in historic districts, making ADA-acceptable improvements financially impossible—and for reasons I’ve never understood, the burden is on the business, not the building owner. —New York Post

••• More thefts on the Tribeca Trib police blotter, including this one at the Duane Reade at Broadway and Park Place: “Two thieves stole $1,415 worth of children’s allergy medicine, fiber supplements, pain relief patches, laxatives and other over-the-counter medicines.” That store gets robbed so often that I’m beginning to feel like a fool for paying for stuff there.

••• “A former Shake Shack employee has filed a federal lawsuit against the burger giant—claiming his bosses at the [Fulton Center] location where he worked ignored safety hazards and let ‘visibly sick’ employees handle food, among other vile things.” Read the entire article and it all sounds less clear-cut than that indicates. —New York Post

••• CBS New York says Ward III is reopening at the end of this month after 15 months of construction. I ran that by the folks at Ward III, who said that a firm date remains up in the air, but “we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to soft open by then and be back in full force early October at the latest.”