Fifteen Jacksonville small businesses are now joining the fight against a local woman and attorney who've filed dozens of lawsuits accusing them of breaking the law.
An Action News Jax Investigation in July revealed disabled Jacksonville woman Wanda Moore, who is a double amputee, and her attorney Robert Gibson have filed 40 lawsuits against restaurants, gas stations and food stores, accusing them of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Many of the businesses say it’s just a money grab, and Moore and Gibson don’t really care about fixing the problems.
Now, Gibson and his client Wanda Moore are being sued.
After Gibson failed to return Action News Jax reporter Jenna Bourne’s calls, she walked up to him while he was getting into a Range Rover outside his office. Gibson asked for Bourne’s business card. When she went to go get one, Gibson got into another SUV and sped off.
“We believe that the number of businesses that have been affected are in the hundreds,” said attorney Justin Drach, who is representing the small businesses that were targeted.
The countersuit filed by Lubi's Hot Subs accuses Gibson of falsely claiming Moore had been on Lubi's premises, when in fact she had not.
It says once a target was identified, someone would go in and take photographs of ADA violations, and claim Moore had been a patron.
Attorney Justin Drach said a whistleblower who used to work for Gibson showed him a list of 250 local businesses they targeted.
Latin Creations is one of the businesses now joining Lubi’s Hot Subs’ lawsuit.
Beatrice Chandler, who manages the front of the house at Latin Creations, said she’s never seen Wanda Moore.
“It said that they bought fried tomatoes here and we don’t sell fried tomatoes. So that was another – ding, ding, ding -- that doesn’t sound right,” Chandler said.
An internal email at Gibson’s Law Office shows photos of alleged ADA violations at Latin Creations were taken April 27, more than two weeks before the lawsuit claims Wanda Moore visited.
“As we were looking at the pictures, we were like, 'Wait a minute, that toilet was changed before May 16,'” Chandler said.
Her Home Depot receipt for a new toilet says May 1.
“It hurts. It really hurts that they’re trying to take the little bit of income that we make for ourselves. I mean, I have a kid. And if we have to close the business because of this, you know, what am I going to do?” Chandler said.
Action News Jax called Wanda Moore and went to her home today, but no one came to the door.
Businesses Moore and Gibson are currently suing:
Bono's Pit Bar B Q
Sunrise Caribbean Gourmet, Inc.
Harry's Food Mart
Exxon Food Mart
Another Broken Egg Café
Sheik The Restaurant
Beach Road Chicken Dinners
Hook Fish & Chicken (Atlantic Blvd)
Sam Won Garden Restaurant
Hook Fish And Chicken (Ramona Blvd)
Ramona Food Store
Mr. Dragon Chinese Restaurant
New China Restaurant
Pit Stop 2
Mama Lu's Filipino & Chinese Restaurant
Tony's Super Dollar Store
Lucky Food Mart
Quick and Handy 121
Northside Food Store
Russ-Doe’s Sandwich Shop
Gibbs NY Style Subs
Joelle Food Store
Country Cabin Orange Park
Wally's Gyros & Subs
H & H Discount Beverage, Inc.
Nicole's On The River
Ho Ho Chinese Restaurant
Talleyrand Food Mart
Beignet’s Caribbean Café
Parental Food Mart
Snappy Food Store
First Coast Deli & Grill
"I basically felt like I was being bullied." Small businesses team up to fight woman & attorney suing 40 mom & pop shops over ADA compliance pic.twitter.com/VtEJfHMkfN— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) August 8, 2017
"LawDoc" Robert Gibson sped off in SUV rather than answer my questions about the 40 lawsuits he & Wanda Moore filed against small businesses pic.twitter.com/TdShUvneio— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) August 8, 2017
Attorney Justin Drach tells me a former investigator who worked for "Law Doc" Robert Gibson has list of 250 small businesses they targeted. pic.twitter.com/KsPXjDCeBk— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) August 8, 2017
Internal email shows pics of alleged ADA violations @ Latin Creation were taken weeks before attorney claimed Wanda Moore visited restaurant pic.twitter.com/j2pLNydPnH— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) August 8, 2017
Pre-suit demand says Wanda Moore was at Latin Creations on May 16, but this internal email shows pics were actually taken there April 27. pic.twitter.com/xybnZBA4wh— Jenna Bourne (@jennaANjax) August 8, 2017
© 2017 Cox Media Group.