Weekly Reading List: "Drive By Lawsuit" Edition

Two shelves of multicolored books

On Sunday, December 5, “60 Minutes” ran a story about what it described as “dive by lawsuits,” people suing businesses for ADA accessibility problems in order to make money. The story prompted a lot of anger, frustration, and writing from the disability community. It was one of those rare instances of everyone in the disability talking about the exact same thing for a whole week or more. Here is a collection of articles I read …

What’s a “drive-by lawsuit”?
Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes - December 4, 2016

This is the story that started the week-long-and-counting discussion. Aside from the content and tone of the story, I think there are two factors that intensify feelings about it. First of all, it’s “60 Minutes,” a respected and widely viewed investigative news show that still has a lot of influence with curious but not always highly informed viewers. True, the show also has a parallel reputation for hyperbole and for sometimes engaging in “gotcha” shock journalism. But on the whole, if “60 Minutes” covers a thing, most people assume there’s something to it. Secondly, the story is led by Anderson Cooper, who is widely liked and trusted by a mass audience, but also specifically liked and respected by people with a generally left-wing, progressive point of view. Cooper is one of the few well-known journalists who maintains mainstream respectability and progressive credibility. If Anderson Cooper thinks something is wrong in a segment of the progressive community, something must really be wrong.

The Real Problem with “Drive-By Lawsuits”
Kim Sauder, Crippledscholar - December 5, 2016

Kim Sauder’s blog is usually a good place to start for a thorough deconstruction of something bad happening in or two disability culture. She’s quick on the uptake and her analysis is always sharp.

Anderson Cooper: What Were You Thinking?
David Bekhour, Medium - December 7, 2016

This is probably the most heartfelt and personal of the many “open letter” type responses aimed specifically at Anderson Cooper. As noted above, it hurts extra hard that this was an Anderson Cooper story.

True Activists Don’t Just “Drive-by”
Emily Ladau, Rooted In Rights - December 9, 2016

I’m glad someone pointed out in a detailed way that some ADA lawsuits really are odious and motivated by greed. There IS a problem here. What I especially appreciate is the point that whether or not “drive by” lawsuits are corrupt, they are undoubtedly bad, neglectful advocacy.

Here’s what 60 Minutes Got Wrong About the ADA: Everything
Robyn Powell, XOJane - December 12, 2016

This is another great followup article on the “60 Minutes” story, highlighting the “small details matter” aspect of accessibility, and providing a link to CBS’s response to critics.

Action Alert: Anderson Cooper’s ADA Attack on 60 Minutes
National Council on Independent Living - December 7, 2016

I am not usually a fan of “Action Alerts” in response to bad things in popular media and culture. It often feels too close to some sort of legislation or censorship of ideas. On the other hand, if crafted well, a call to action like this one by NCIL can focus public attention on media shortcomings, and maybe encourage better coverage in the near future.