Boudin reaffirms commitment to protect Chinatown businesses from frivolous ADA lawsuits

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin visited Chinatown on Friday to update business owners on legal action being taken to block frivolous lawsuits that target Chinese American businesses.

With a recall election a month away his visit highlights divisions in the Chinese American community over the district attorney.

San Francisco's Chinatown is still recovering from the pandemic, and many businesses said they've been the target of unscrupulous attorneys shaking them down.

The district attorney last month filed a suit accusing the law firm Potter Handy of using the Americans with Disabilities Act to pressure small businesses into settling lawsuits, often paying as much as $10,000.

While the Chinese Chamber of Commerce welcomed the district attorney, protesters outside greeted him.

Boudin said his office is focused on issues important to Chinatown, including the suit to stop the ADA shakedowns.

"It is also a major step in our efforts to get you back the money that this law firm has taken from you improperly," said Boudin.

The district attorney reaffirmed his commitment to the case and said his office is working to prevent similar cases, getting the court to impose fines on the attorneys filing the cases and getting them to return the money.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce said it appreciates the action taken by the district attorney.

"You delivered," said Donald Luu from the chamber. "You delivered on the point that you're going to investigate and find fault."

Outside protesters urged the people of San Francisco to vote "yes" on Proposition H to recall Boudin.

One recall supporter Leanna Louie said Boudin's appearance in Chinatown to update the community on the lawsuit, "I think it's really performative."

"This is not a criminal act. So, what's being done, it's these lawsuits these are civil matters, and they should be the job of the city attorney's office, not the district attorney's office," Louie said.

The district attorney said despite the allegations that he's not doing enough to combat crime in Chinatown, he is committed to the community.

"I know what a difficult couple of years the pandemic has been, and I will continue to deliver on promises I've made to the Chinese community and to all of San Francisco," said Boudin.

Mail-in ballots were sent to voters in San Francisco, who have a chance to decide on Boudin's future. The deadline to have ballots turned in or to vote in person is June 7.