Friends, Patrons, Community Members,
It is with sadness that I write this letter. The RiverBend Market & Eatery will be closing on October 30th.
As many of you know we are one of many restaurants that are being sued by a group alleging American with Disabilities Act violations (ADA). Just so you know, we had gone through great expense to make sure this sixty year old building is totally up to code with Park County and Colorado state regulations and have the Certificate of Occupancy to prove it.
We are being sued by a Palm Beach Florida man, Santiago Abreau and his Coral Springs attorney Jason Weiss, (954-573-2800) in conjunction with two Denver attorneys Brett Huff and Richard Leslie, ((303-232-3622), who work for the Florida people here locally.
The Florida group has filed lawsuits in many parts of the country and now have almost seventy suits here in Colorado as their opening salvo. Santiago allegedly visited the RiverBend a couple of months after we opened most likely on their way to Breckenridge historic district where they filed multiple suits. All the suits are the same claiming Santiago, a supposed handicapped individual, was barred entry to the establishment for a variety of reasons and could not enjoy using the establishment. The suit is bogus but they seek out businesses that have a corporate structure and then sue in Federal Court where in order to defend oneself you must have an attorney. The attorney for such a case begins at $15,000 - $20,000.
The attorney Brett Huff who filed the suit said he would go away for $15,000. I do NOT do well with extortion. Although the Federal Judge was magnanimous in his behavior and appointed us an excellent attorney who is working for free, Courtenay Patterson, we will still be forced out even if we win. You see unless Congress passes a law that states “before you can sue for an ADA violation you must notify the business and allow 120 days for corrections to be made” we can literally be sued every day by someone. No one can run a business with this type of liability over their head.
The reality is that the plaintiff can almost always win since all they have to prove is that a toilet paper dispenser is off by a few inches. Even if an establishment is perfect one would still have to retain an attorney to answer the complaint in federal court. The wind up is aside from the fee we would pay our own attorney we would most likely still have to pay the plaintiff.
If you would like to help please contact your congress person. There is a bill trying to pass but I think we all know what the odds of the US Congress acting has been. However, we may find a sympathetic ear to save Colorado businesses (and nationwide).
On a brighter note it has been a pleasure having so many of you over for lunch and dinner on the river at the RiverBend Eatery. Stay healthy & God Bless you.