Attorney, And Other Man Charged with Conspiring in `Shakedown’ Lawsuits

City News Service

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – An Inland Empire attorney and another man accused of
conspiring to file more than five dozen harassment lawsuits seeking payoffs
from small businesses over purported Americans with Disabilities Act violations
were arrested today.

Ross Christopher Cornell, 47, of Big Bear and Bryan Eduardo Estrada,
27, of Homeland are each charged with three counts of filing false documents
and three counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

The defendants were taken into custody without incident at their
respective residences and booked into the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside,
where they’re both being held on $30,000 bail.

According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, since
2019, the pair allegedly targeted more than 60 proprietorships countywide in so-
called “shakedown” civil actions, claiming that the victims were failing to
comply with federal disability access requirements specified under the ADA.

A review of the suits filed by Cornell, who has been practicing law
since 2000, revealed that the claims were part of a scam to extract payments,
prosecutors allege.

“The District Attorney’s Office supports accessibility rights for
disabled persons but strongly maintains that ADA laws should not be manipulated
solely for financial benefit, as alleged in this case,” according to an agency
statement.

Estrada was the alleged front man in the operation, visiting the
businesses and later submitting claims that he could not gain access, according
to the D.A.’s office.

It was unknown in how many instances Cornell offered to settle
litigation out of court and for what amounts.

The defendant has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor
convictions in Riverside County. Estrada also has no priors, according to court
records.

The D.A.’s office has previously filed charges against attorneys for
alleged shakedown suits, and in 2019, the agency was singled out for praise by
the nonprofit Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse for being proactive in trying to
safeguard the interests of business owners and deter “abusive ADA lawsuits.”

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-03-10-2022 11:53

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