Less than a month after judges threw three of Jarek Molskiâ€™s disability-access lawsuits out of federal court, Molski has refiled two of them in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.
The lawsuits target the same businesses that Molski sued in federal court: The Galley restaurant in Morro Bay, and the company that owns EOS winery in Paso Robles.
â€œWeâ€™re going back,â€? EOS Winery General Manager Kerr Vix said with a sigh. â€œItâ€™s just irritating that we have to go through this.â€?
Over the past three years, the wheelchair-bound Molski has filed more than 380 lawsuits around the state, all against businesses that allegedly violate state- and federal-disability-access laws. Here on the Central Coast, Molski has settled approximately 60 of the 90-something lawsuits heâ€™s filed, for a total amount that New Times estimates at $1.2 million.
Recently, judges have begun throwing Molskiâ€™s cases out of federal court, which is what happened with EOS and The Galleyâ€™s suits. As with other tossed-out cases, Molski has now refiled against the winery and the restaurant in county court.
As in almost every other suit he files, Molski is claiming an almost-identical list of problems: There are no places in the parking lot for a handicap-accessible van. The front door is too heavy. The ramps are too steep. The counters are too high. And problems with the bathroom cause him to injure himself.
Molski lists the same injuries in both suits: He says heâ€™s suffered injuries to his upper extremities, â€œphysical discomfort, emotional distress, mental distress, mental suffering, mental anguish, which includes but is not limited to shame, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, and worryâ€? â€” all for which he claims $4,000 a day in damages.
Last year, in a sworn deposition with Jon Cantor, EOS Wineryâ€™s lawyer, Molski seemed to contradict those claims.
Cantor: Did you have any pains in your wrists from opening up the winery door, sir?
Molski: No, not that I recall.
Cantor: Pain in your arms?
Molski: Upper shoulders.
Cantor: In your upper shoulders. Okay. And how long did that pain last?
Molski: Probably less than 30 seconds.
Molski: Or so.
Cantor: Did you have emotional distress at the time of trying to open up the winery door?
Molski: Other than anger?
Cantor: Yes, other than anger.
Molski: Probably not.
Cantor: Mental distress?
Molski: Oh. No.
Cantor: Mental suffering?
Cantor: Mental anguish?
Cantor: Were you shameful?
One of the first judges to publicly note discrepancies in Molskiâ€™s suits was Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie, who, in 2004, accused Molski and his lawyers of extortion and blocked them from filing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits in federal court without permission from a judge.
â€œIn addition to misusing a noble law, Molski has plainly lied in his filings to this Court. His claims of being the innocent victim of hundreds of physical and emotional injuries over the last four years defy belief and common sense,â€? Rafeedie wrote at the time.
The judge went on to point out how most of Molskiâ€™s suits claim that he went to multiple places and was injured multiple times in the same day.
â€œThe Court is tempted to exclaim: â€˜what a lousy day!â€™â€? Rafeedie wrote. â€œIt would be highly unusual â€” to say the least â€” for anyone to sustain two injuries, let alone three, in a single day each of which necessitated a separate federal lawsuit.
â€œThe record before the Court leads it to conclude that these suits were filed maliciously, in order to extort a cash settlement.â€?
Jarek Molski, born Jaroslaw Molski in Poland in 1970, moved to the Los Angeles area with his sister and their grandmother in 1982. On June 22, 1988, he was riding his motorcycle northbound on I-5 and smashed into a semi truck about 20 miles north of where Hwy. 41 intersects the interstate. The accident left Molski a paraplegic.
Staff Writer Abraham Hyatt can be reached at email@example.com.