"President Obama's Department of Justice -- led by Attorney General Eric Holder -- has found a new way to make the Americans with Disabilities Act pay off for Democratic trial lawyer campaign donors.
Since the ADA first became law in 1990, the DOJ has been issuing "guidelines" that businesses must follow to comply with a multitude of the nation's civil rights laws.
In September 2010, the DOJ issued guidelines for "recreational facilities," including a new rule that all public access swimming pools must provide a lift capable of moving disabled patrons from their wheelchairs into the water.
Compliance with the rule requires pool owners to have a lift for each "water element" in their facility. So if your local community pool also has a spa, both the spa and the pool must be "accessible." But if you have two spas, don't worry, only one lift is required.
In fact, most people in the swimming pool industry thought that one portable lift would be enough. Pool owners claim they were led to believe that, as long as they had one device that could be wheeled out whenever someone needed help getting into or out of a pool or spa, there would be no need intrusive permanent fixtures.
On Jan. 31 of this year, DOJ granted the industry's call for a clarification: But it was not the answer they wanted. All 300,000 public pools in the United States must install a permanent fixed lift. The deadline for compliance was last Thursday, March 15. Call it "Poolmageddon."
There is no way all 300,000 pools could have installed permanent lifts by last Thursday. There simply are not enough lifts in existence or enough people who know how to install them, according to industry spokesmen. Plus, each lift costs between $3,000 and $10,000 and installation can add $5,000 to $10,000 to the total.
So what happens when a disabled individual checks into a Holiday Inn and finds no lift at the pool? The Obama DOJ has said it will not be enforcing the new guidelines right away. That means no fines from the government, for now.
But the ADA also empowered citizens to sue businesses that are not in compliance with DOJ guidelines. The result will be a huge payday for enterprising trial lawyers everywhere.
"The enforcement is going to be by litigation," said Kevin Maher, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. "A lot of drive-by lawsuits against business by law firms that are set up file to file spurious ADA claims."
Besides being expensive and impossible to install in time, permanent lifts are also a health hazard. Most hotel pools do not have a lifeguard and kids can access them unsupervised.
The permanent lifts will be a magnet for children to play on, and because they are not designed for that, odds are good that some will get hurt. But then again, each injured kid is just another payday for trial attorneys.
By the way, trial lawyers gave President Obama more than $45 million in 2008.
Have a nice summer."
Conn Carroll is a senior editorial writer for The Washington Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com.
The joys of Obama never end.
What happens with four more years of this????