Florida man accuses dozens of Boulder Valley businesses of ADA violations

Florida resident Fred Nekouee has filed more than two dozen lawsuits in the past year, accusing Boulder Valley area businesses of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Of the 29 Colorado cases in which Nekouee is the plaintiff, 17 have been closed in 2019. Many of those closed cases have been settled for undisclosed sums. 

The suits target local restaurants, hotels, banks, grocery stores and other retailers. Defendants include Cimmaron Holdings LLC, which operates a Taco Bell in Longmont; Premier Hospitality Inc., owner of a Longmont Econo Lodge and commercial real estate developer and landlord Stephen Tebo.

Nekouee regularly travels to the Longmont area to vacation or to attend heavy-equipment auctions with his brother, according to legal filings.

He “has progressive multiple sclerosis, weak limbs, and requires the use of a wheelchair for mobility,” court documents show. 

Nekouee’s wheelchair makes it a challenge to traverse parking lots with steep inclines. Other common features of his suits include difficulty accessing bathrooms and opening doors. 

Title III of the ADA, a civil-rights law passed in 1980, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation to comply with the ADA standards,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Nekouee’s suits, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, claim that local businesses fail to meet a host of ADA standards and therefor he is a victim of discrimination. 

Courtenay Patterson, a Longmont attorney who specializes in defending companies in ADA suits, said settlements in ADA discrimination cases are often between $3,000 and $5,000.

These types of complaints are often referred to as “drive-by lawsuits” and are filed by plaintiffs called “testers,” who visit multiple businesses in search of accessibility problems. A bill that would put restrictions on drive-by suits was passed last year in the U.S. House of Representatives but never came before the U.S Senate for a vote. 

“Each individual case has individual merits, and each case stands on its own,” Nekouee’s attorney Robert Vincze told BizWest. The Kansas-based attorney declined to comment further. 

Each of Nekouee’s suits demand remedies to the ADA non-compliance issues and the payment of attorney’s fees and other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Nekouee’s complaints each follow a similar template. This is quite common among drive-by lawsuits, Patterson said.

“In many cases they’re basically boilerplate complaints with a couple of paragraphs changed,” she said. “It’s a copy-and-paste job.”

Several of Nekouee’s suits include expert testimony affidavit provided by a person named David Nekouee. It is unclear how, or whether, Jeff and David Nekouee are related.

According to a resume submitted as part of an affidavit, David Nekouee is the CEO of Capital Design and Engineering, a Florida architectural and construction design services company.

David Nekouee has “provided ADA consulting services as an expert witness on many civil lawsuits,” the resume said.

The targets of Nekouee’s suits are not limited to the Boulder Valley area. According to public records, he is the plaintiff in more than 100 cases filed in Kansas, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama. Those complaints, which date as far back as 2014, follow the same formula as his Colorado suits. Many of those out-of-state suits have also been settled out of court. 

Neoukee is by no means the only person to go after Colorado companies in ADA lawsuits. 

Over a period of about two months in 2017, Arvada resident Mellisa Umphenour filed 64 suits against Denver-area businesses, all of which have since been dismissed or settled. El Paso County resident Carlos Brito is the plaintiff in nearly two dozen suits against Colorado Springs-area establishments, some of which are ongoing. 

Patterson said while there are certainly valid ADA lawsuits, “the vast majority are what I would consider to be frivolous.”

Part of the problem with drive-by suits is that they delegitimize real ADA complaints, she said. 

“It’s sort of like the boy who cried wolf.”

The following organizations are defendants in Nekouee’s suits:

  • Cimarron Holdings LLC and Alvarado Concepts LLC. Filed Nov. 23, 2018; closed Feb. 25, 2019.
  • Miki LLC. Filed Nov. 25, 2018.
  • North Star Foods LLC. Filed Dec. 17, 2018; closed Feb. 5, 2019.
  • M & H Development LLC. Filed Dec. 20, 2018; closed June 24, 2019.
  • KBSB Investment Inc. Filed Dec. 22, 2018; closed March 30, 2019.
  • Premier Hospitality Inc. Filed Dec. 27, 2018; closed Aug. 5, 2019.
  • Gust Family Enterprises Inc. and MSMP Investors LLC. Filed Jan. 4, 2019; closed  Jan. 4, 2019.
  • Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc., Gust Family Enterprises Inc. and MSMP Investors LLC. Filed Jan. 4, 2019; closed  Feb. 20, 2019.
  • FirstBank of Longmont. Filed Jan. 5, 2019; closed April 29, 2019.
  • Champion Windsor LLC. Filed Jan. 7, 2019; closed Feb. 14, 2019.
  • GKT Fox Creek Village LLC, Dillon Cos. LLC and Walgreens Co. Filed Jan. 11, 2019; closed Aug. 8, 2019.
  • RPT Realty LP, Lowe’s Home Centers LLC, Marlu Days LLC and Michaels Stores Inc. Filed Jan. 21, 2019; closed May 29, 2019.
  • Longmont Business Partners LLLP. Filed March 27, 2019; closed Aug. 15, 2019.
  • 1089 M3 LLC. Filed April 8, 2019; closed June 20, 2019.
  • Diagonal Service Center LLC, Cervantes Inc. and LMRC Inc. Filed April 19, 2019.
  • Waffle House Inc. Filed April 24, 2019; closed April 24, 2019.
  • Waffle House Inc. Filed April 24, 2019; closed July 17, 2019.
  • Starbucks Corp., Betty L. Schlagel LLC. Filed May 1, 2019.
  • Longmont Lodging Associates LLC. Filed May 24, 2019; closed Aug. 30, 2019.
  • Blackfox Parkway Associates LLC, ModMarket LLC, Lucky’s Market of Longmont LLC, Lucky’s Market Operating Co. LLC. Filed June 6, 2019.
  • Abs Rm Lease Investor LLC and Leevers Supermarkets Inc. Filed June 6, 2019.
  • BJRB Holdings LLC, BurgersRock3 LLC and Chipotle Mexican Grill of Colorado. Filed June 11, 2019; closed Sept. 6, 2019.
  • M&J Restaurants LLC, Stephen Tebo and Snarf’s Management LLC. Filed June 18, 2019; closed Aug. 2, 2019.
  • North Star Foods LLC. Filed June 20, 2019. Closed July 23, 2019.
  • Officemax North America Inc. and RLET Properties OMX LLC. Filed July 12, 2019.
  • Silver Leaf Development LLC and Chub Burger LLC. Filed July 29, 2019.
  • Safeway Inc. Filed Aug. 10, 2019.
  • Globea Properties Associates LLC and Safeway Inc. Filed Aug. 20, 2019.
  • Dillon Cos. LLC, Dollar Tree Stores Inc. and Horizon Park Partners LLC. Filed Sept 3, 2019.

Source: U.S District Court documents

Florida resident Fred Nekouee has filed more than two dozen lawsuits in the past year, accusing Boulder Valley area businesses of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Of the 29 Colorado cases in which Nekouee is the plaintiff, 17 have been closed in 2019. Many of those closed cases have been settled for undisclosed sums. 

The suits target local restaurants, hotels, banks, grocery stores and other retailers. Defendants include Cimmaron Holdings LLC, which operates a Taco Bell in Longmont; Premier Hospitality Inc., owner of a Longmont Econo Lodge and commercial real estate developer and landlord Stephen Tebo.

Nekouee regularly travels to the Longmont area to vacation or to attend heavy-equipment auctions with his brother, according to legal filings.

He “has progressive multiple sclerosis, weak limbs, and requires the use of a wheelchair for mobility,” court documents show. 

Nekouee’s wheelchair makes it a challenge to traverse parking lots with steep inclines. Other common features of his suits include difficulty accessing bathrooms and opening doors. 

Title III of the ADA, a civil-rights law passed in 1980, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation to comply with the ADA standards,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Nekouee’s suits, which were filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, claim that local businesses fail to meet a host of ADA standards and therefor he is a victim of discrimination. 

Courtenay Patterson, a Longmont attorney who specializes in defending companies in ADA suits,…