Pennsylvania Record

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Own a home in Philadelphia? There’s a lawsuit on your doorstep that you might not know about

Federal Court

By The Pennsylvania Record | Sep 25, 2019

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It’s not always easy to see how the civil justice system can affect everyday life, but one lawsuit in Philadelphia literally is hitting close to home for property owners in the city.

We and our sister sites have reported endlessly about so-called “drive-by” lawsuits – professional plaintiffs and lawyers who team to find businesses whose storefronts are not up to the latest requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

These lawsuits often leave businesses with few desirable choices - hire a lawyer to challenge the lawsuit or spend thousands on major renovations. Paying the plaintiff to go away is sometimes the easiest way out.

Disabilities advocates have turned their attention to the sidewalks in Philadelphia, calling them “dilapidated, disintegrating and teeming with obstructions, making every day travel difficult and dangerous for the thousands of people with disabilities that call Philadelphia home."

But if you think the city will fix your dilapidated sidewalk courtesy of its insurance carrier, think again.  

This terrific piece of reporting at Billy Penn shows that homeowners would be responsible for the costs of fixing the sidewalks running along their property.

Don’t worry if your sidewalk-repair rainy day fund is dry; homeowners who don’t have the hundreds of dollars on hand to pay for the cost can apply for a low-interest loan. Genius for the city - in addition to not having to pay for the repairs, it could make a small profit off of those homeowners who participate in the loan program.

We wrote earlier this year about a Delaware County woman fighting an order to repair 40 feet of sidewalk in front of her house in Aldan. Her lawyer might pick up a few new clients if all of Philadelphia is told to pay to fix its sidewalks.

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U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania