AUSTIN (KXAN) — The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review sanctions totaling over $230,000 against Austin attorney Omar Rosales for bad conduct against an opposing lawyer and fabricating evidence, among other problems Rosales created while representing one client in hundreds of lawsuits against local businesses for technical violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The $230,000 in sanctions includes $60,500 the U.S. 5th Circuit of Appeals tacked on for filing a frivolous appeal. Rosales cannot appeal the sanctions further, following the Supreme Court’s decision.
Rosales was suspended for three years from practicing in the U.S. Western District. He was sanctioned $175,000 in U.S. District Court in Austin for disparaging Austin civil rights attorney Jim Harrington. Harrington founded the Texas Civil Rights Project and represented several groups pro bono that were sued by Rosales.
Rosales has defended his part in filing hundreds of ADA lawsuits in Austin. He previously told KXAN he was working to improve access for disabled people and the suits were necessary to effect change.
The Texas State Bar’s Commission for Lawyer Discipline sued Rosales for a second time in April for violating rules of professional conduct and acting in bad faith. The State Bar’s first case against Rosales was dismissed.
Rosales’ attorney, Wes Gaines, said Rosales “is a veteran who is 100 percent disabled. He has done nothing but pursue his rights, and the rights of his clients, and does not warrant this wholesale assault against him by the Bar.”
Harrington intervened in eight cases Rosales filed. He claimed Rosales was engaging in a “’shakedown’… under ADA for personal enrichment by settling cases for his attorney’s fees only.” Rosales ultimately dropped all the cases that Harrington was involved in.
Harrington said he took on the cases to defend the integrity of the ADA, which could be eroded by Rosales’ actions.
The lawsuits “led to a tirade of 113 outlandishly false personal accusations against Harrington that Rosales inserted into legal pleadings. Harrington also caught Rosales fabricating court evidence,” according to a written statement provided by Harrington.
KXAN began reporting on Rosales’ Austin ADA lawsuits, which he filed on behalf of one disabled client, John Deutsch, in 2015. In the span of a year, the duo filed about 385 suits alleging incremental violations of ADA law, such as too-narrow handicap parking spaces and inadequate signage.
Rosales did not notify businesses before suing them, and in many letters reviewed by KXAN he demanded $7,000 to drop the case.
Following his work with Deutsch, Rosales embarked on a separate venture targeting health care businesses for website ADA violations. Numerous business owners contacted KXAN saying they received letters from Rosales demanding $2,000 to settle an unfiled lawsuit. Rosales said he would file the lawsuit if the business did not enter settlement negotiations.