Vern Weigum received a letter sent from Carmichael the other day.
Inside the envelope, the owner of Weigum's Lodi Nursery on Ham Lane found a note stating he was out of compliance with regulations outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and that he had 60 days to fix what was wrong or he would be taken to court.
The letter did not specify what specifically Weigum needed to fix to make sure he was compliant with ADA policies.
The letter was signed by Scott Johnson.
"I have been here for 56 years," Weigum said. "I walk around with a cane and have two walkers in the back of my pick-up. Almost everyone in Lodi knows us, and for those who can't walk, they honk and we bring what they need out to their car or we deliver it to their house for free."
Weigum is the newest addition to a growing list of businesses in Lodi that have been either sued or have been notified that they are out of compliance with ADA regulations.
Specifically, most of the businesses that are targeted are told they do not have the proper number of handicapped parking spaces, that their parking spaces are not the proper size for handicapped vans, or that their signage is not up to code.
But since January, roughly 15 businesses in Lodi have been targeted by Johnson and George Louie, two plaintiffs who have attracted attention for their tendency to perpetually sue businesses throughout California, regardless of whether they have ever actually frequented the establishments they are suing.
The businesses also tend to be small mom-and-pops or local establishments, rather than national chains.
Currently, Louie is listed as a vexatious litigant in Contra Costa County.
Because of his high number of losses, Louie is technically not allowed to file any more lawsuits in any court in California until a judge deems his cases legitimate enough to move forward in a court of law.
Bob Casalegno, owner of Java Stop on South Hutchins Street, was sued by Johnson in May for having parking spots that were not wide enough to fit his van and for not having a restroom that was ADA-compliant.
Casalegno has maintained that his business, parking spots and all, have always been up-to-date with ADA regulations.
On Monday, Casalegno's lawyer informed him that Johnson requested a jury and that Johnson was going to try to move the case forward to the trial stage.
While Casalegno would have had to pay roughly $4,000 to settle the lawsuit, now the case could cost more.
These lawsuits are expensive, whether or not a business settles with a plaintiff, said Connie Riggs, co-owner of Gienger Floor Covering.
Riggs received a letter from Johnson a few months ago. Riggs said her letter was "cookie-cutter" in that it stated nearly verbatim what Weigum's letter did.
In doing research with her husband, Riggs discovered it would cost between $200 and $2,000 just to outline properly-sized parking spaces and to pay an inspector to approve the changes. Those costs did not include settlement payments or lawyer fees should the business need to settle with Johnson or Louie.
"You could still be in compliance, but they want you to spend your money anyways on an inspection," she said. "My question to them is why don't they come out themselves and tell me what is wrong?"
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.