Legal Ethics

Lawyer who filed hundreds of ADA suits barred from practice in Texas federal court for three years

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A lawyer in Austin, Texas, has been suspended from practice in a federal court for three years based on a finding he “unquestionably acted in bad faith” in six cases.

Omar W. Rosales has filed 385 lawsuits against small businesses for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but his actions in the six cases led to his suspension from practice in the Western District of Texas, report and the Austin American-Statesman.

Before seeking readmission to the court, Rosales will have to take ethics training and anger management courses, according to the ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge David Ezra.

Rosales was accused of altering an email to make it look like he had responded to the opposing counsel’s email about setting up depositions. He was also accused of making inflammatory comments about the opposing lawyer, including that he “treats Hispanics like servants and noble savages that need his superlative help and guidance.”

Rosales had claimed the fabricated email was sent in error, but he provided no evidence to support that claim, Ezra said.

Rosales also filed a criminal complaint of a “terroristic threat” against the opposing counsel and sought a restraining order based on the opposing counsel’s alleged “erratic” stalking. There was no evidence supporting either claim by Rosales, Ezra said.

“By clear and convincing evidence,” Ezra wrote, “the record overwhelmingly supports a finding that Rosales’ bad faith conduct in these matters has been brazenly dishonest, deceitful, and fraudulent.”

The opposing counsel, Jim Harrington, told the American-Statesman he believed a three-year suspension from practice in the district court is too light.

Though Harrington had previously filed ADA cases against businesses, he had told KXAN he decided to defend businesses pro bono in some of Rosales’ suits to defend the integrity of the ADA. Harrington told KXAN he would give businesses a chance to fix ADA problems before suing; several business owners said they didn’t get that opportunity in Rosales’ suits.

Rosales sent demand letters to businesses wanting $7,000 and warning their litigation costs could top $100,000 if they fought the suits, according to KXAN.

All of the suits were filed on behalf of one plaintiff.

Last December, Rosales was also fined nearly $176,000 for his behavior.

Rosales released this statement on his suspension to the American-Statesman: “In Austin, if you are black or disabled you have no civil rights. So, we will take this case to the 5th Circuit, to once again review the decisions of the all-white, all-male judges in Austin federal court. How is it, that in 2017, all the federal judges in Austin are white males?”

Hat tip to Law360.

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