Is he crusader or con man?
That's the question the New York Post poses in a story about a double amputee in Brooklyn who regularly rolls into businesses to check whether they are handicap-accessible -- then sues them if they are not.
Zoltan Hirsch, 31, has filed 87 federal claims in the last year seeking damages and legal fees, according to the Post, and continues to file suits at the rate of about one a day.
So far, he's sued a Brooklyn Dunkin' Donuts, the Louis Vuitton store in SoHo, and even a Lace strip club in Midtown.
He's also sued the non-kosher City Crab restaurant, even though he is kosher, and a pedicure spa at the Red & White Spa in SoHo, even though he has no feet.
Hirsch told the Post he'd like to be able to enjoy a drink at a non-kosher restaurant, or to visit a strip club if he chooses. "It's my prerogative," he said.
The claims ask for $500 in damages for Hirsch, plus legal fees to his Florida-based lawyer who has filed dozens of similar suits in that state. With costs for documents, experts and travel factored in, fees can reach $15,000 per case.
The lawyer, Bradley Weitz, seems to be exploiting the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows the payment of attorney fees, a lawyer who defended a business sued by Hirsch told the Post.
If even one violation of the ADA is upheld, Weitz can recover attorney fees, another lawyer said, adding that defendants often settle quickly.
Hirsch and his lawyer said they are not looking for personal profit, but are championing the rights of the disabled.
Curt Deck, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, said lawsuits contending ADA violations usually address real problems: "Whether someone then is trying to use that process just to enrich themselves -- we're not happy with that," he told the Post.