SF District Attorney

San Francisco District Attorney Boudin Announces Investigation Over Potentially Fraudulent Lawsuits Targeting Chinatown Merchants

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CONTACT: 

Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org  

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces that the District Attorney’s Office is launching an investigation into reports of possibly illegitimate lawsuits targeting Chinatown merchants.  There have been reports that lawyers have sent out potentially fraudulent suits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and have exploited the law to extort small business owners into paying them.  This afternoon, members of the District Attorney’s Office staff attended a townhall in Chinatown, where these concerns were voiced by many Chinatown merchants, and the DA held a press conference at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce following the townhall.

“We have received reports of frivolous lawsuits intentionally targeting small businesses in Chinatown—often owned by monolingual immigrants—that attempt to undermine the ADA by using it to extort settlements rather than vindicating disability rights,” said District Attorney Boudin.  “We will not tolerate exploitation of the Chinese community or any business owners.  We know that Chinese merchants are no more likely to violate the ADA than any other business owner and we take these allegations very seriously.  We encourage anyone who believes they have been fraudulently targeted to reach out to our office as we launch our investigation.”

At a press conference this afternoon, District Attorney Boudin was joined by Edward Siu, Chairman of the Chinatown Merchants United Association of San Francisco; Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Eddie Au; Chinese Chamber of Commerce Vice President Donald Luu; and Hene Kelly, Former Chair of the Disability Caucus of the California Democratic Party and Vice President of the California Alliance for Retired Americans.

“The Chinatown Merchants United Association appreciates how quickly the District Attorney’s Office has responded in setting up a special investigation and recognizing the seriousness of this situation,” said Edward Siu, Chairman of the Chinatown Merchants United Association of San Francisco. “The lawsuits target hardworking, monolingual, mom-and-pop stores located in the country’s oldest and largest Chinatown. Many are still struggling through this pandemic. I join DA Boudin in emphasizing that people should abide by ADA regulations, but exploiting the ADA to scam small business owners in our city is not acceptable.”

Leaders in the disability rights shared DA Boudin’s concerns.  “These types of lawsuits are very upsetting and they do not work to improve access for the disabled community,” said Sascha Bittner, San Francisco Disability and Aging Services  Commissioner and incoming Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party Disabilities Caucus.  “It is especially upsetting that these lawsuits are being brought against the Chinese community, as businesses are re-opening after the pandemic and as there has been so much discrimination already against this community. I am so glad that the District Attorney is committed to protecting the Chinese American community and to working with the disabled community to improve laws so that there can be access for all disabled community members.”

The reports suggest that these lawsuits have targeted small businesses in Chinatown, a community that has been deeply impacted by the economic impact of the pandemic and a surge of xenophobia and racism.  The District Attorney’s Office takes these allegations seriously, and condemns any exploitation of the Chinese community or of small business owners.

Through this investigation, the District Attorney’s Office seeks to uphold the value of the ADA, which ensures that people living with disabilities receive the respect and access they deserve in all aspects of life.  The District Attorney’s Office seeks to promote compliance with the ADA and is working in close consult with leaders in the disability rights community as it moves forward. 

“Exploiting the ADA does not advance disability rights,” said District Attorney Boudin.  “We are concerned that potentially frivolous lawsuits not only fail to promote accessibility or disability rights, but instead force businesses to either shut down or provide payouts to lawyers who have no interest in promoting disability rights.”

For more information on ADA compliance in San Francisco please visit the Mayor’s Office on Disability’s website. 

Anyone who believes they have been victimized by fraud should reach out to the District Attorney’s Consumer Protection and Fraud hotline at 628-652-4311.

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中文

CONTACT: 

Rachel Marshall, (415) 416-4468 / Rachel.Marshall@sfgov.org

三藩市地檢官博徹思宣布對針對華埠商戶的潛在欺詐訴訟展開調

 

三藩市 — 今天,三藩市地區檢察官博徹思宣布,地檢署對舉報可能針對華埠商戶的違法訴訟展開調查。舉報指稱有律師根據《美國殘障人士法案》(ADA) 提出潛在欺詐訴訟,並利用法律勒索小企業擁有者支付款項。今天下午,地檢署的職員參與了華埠的議事會,會中許多華埠商戶對此事表達擔憂,地檢官隨即在會後於中華總商會舉行新聞發布會。

 

「我們收到舉報關於故意針對華埠小企業–大多由不諳英語移民擁有–的輕率訴訟。這些訴訟試圖破壞ADA法治精神,藉此來勒索和解款項而非維護殘障人士權益。」地檢官博徹思說:「我們不會容忍對華裔社群或任何企業擁有者的剝削。相比其他企業擁有者,我們知道華裔商戶不會更為違反ADA,並對這些指控非常重視。我們鼓勵任何相信自己成為欺詐目標的人,聯繫我們辦公室以展開調查。」

 

在今天下午的新聞發布會上,地檢官博徹思與舊金山華埠商戶聯會會長邵旗謙、舊金山中華總商會會長區國雄和副會長劉運方、加州民主黨殘障核心小組前主席及加州退休美國人士聯盟副主席Hene Kelly一同出席。

 

「舊金山華埠商戶聯會感激地區檢察署重視現時情況的嚴重性,及迅速回應社區和成立特別調查。」舊金山華埠商戶聯會會長邵旗謙說:「這些訴訟針對的,是全國歷史最悠久、規模最龐大的華埠中,最為勤奮和不諳英語的家庭小店;許多依然在這次疫情中掙扎求存。我與地檢官博徹思一起強調:人人應該遵守ADA法規,但是利用ADA來對本市的小企業欺騙斂財,是不能接受的。」

 

殘障權益的領導者與地檢官博徹思有著相同的顧慮。「這類型的訴訟令人非常不安,它們無助改善殘障社群的可及性。」三藩市殘障及老齡服務委員和候任加州民主黨殘障核心小組副主席Sascha Bittner說:「最令人不安的,是這些訴訟針對華裔社群,尤其在企業於疫情後重啟,及這社群已經遭受太多歧視的時候。我很高興地檢官承諾保衛華裔社群,及與殘障社群合作改善法律,以致所有殘障社群成員都能使用公眾設施。」

 

舉報顯示這些訴訟是針對華埠中小企業,這社區深受疫情下的經濟打擊及激增仇亞和種族主義所影響。地檢署嚴肅對待這些指控,並譴責任何對華裔社群或小企業擁有者的剝削。

 

通過這次展開調查,地檢署力求維護ADA的精神價值,其確保殘障人士在生活的各個方面獲得應有的尊重和機會。地檢署力求促進遵守ADA法規,並在推進過程中與殘障權益社群的領導者密切協商。

 

「利用 ADA 並不能促進殘障權益,」地檢官博徹思說:「我們擔憂的是潛在輕率訴訟不僅無法推進使用可及性或殘障權益,反而迫使企業無奈選擇結業或向對無視促進殘障權益的律師支付款項。」

 

三藩市ADA遵守法規的更多信息,請瀏覽市長殘障辦公室網站 Mayor’s Office on Disability’s 。 

 

任何相信自己成為欺詐侵害的人,應致電地檢署的消費者保護和欺詐熱線 628-652-4311。

 

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