Myles M. Mattenson
5550 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Suite 200
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Telephone (818) 313-9060
Facsimile (818) 313-9260
"Is Your Coin Laundry “Accessible?”"

      Myles M. Mattenson engages in a general civil and trial practice including litigation and transactional services relating to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, franchising, business, purchase and sale of real estate, easements, landlord-tenant, partnership, corporate, insurance bad faith, personal injury, and probate legal matters.

      In providing services to the coin laundry and dry cleaning industries, Mr. Mattenson has represented equipment distributors, coin laundry and dry cleaning business owners confronted with landlord-tenant issues, lease negotiations, sale documentation including agreements, escrow instructions, and security instruments, as well as fraud or misrepresentation controversies between buyers and sellers of such businesses.

      Mr. Mattenson serves as an Arbitrator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court. He is also past chair of the Law Office Management Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. Mr. Mattenson received his Bachelor of Science degree (Accounting) in 1964 and his Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola University School of Law in 1967.

      Bi-monthly articles by Mr. Mattenson on legal matters of interest to the business community appear in alternate months in The Journal, a leading coin laundry industry publication of the Coin Laundry Association, and Fabricare, a leading dry cleaning industry publication of the International Fabricare Institute. During the period of May 1995 through September 2002, Mr. Mattenson contributed similar articles to New Era Magazine, a coin laundry and dry cleaning industry publication which ceased publication with the September 2002 issue.

      This website contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's New Era Magazine articles which can be retrieved through a subject or chronological index. The website also contains copies of Mr. Mattenson's Journal and Fabricare articles, which can be retrieved through a chronological index.

      In addition to Mr. Mattenson's trial practice, he has successfully prosecuted and defended appeals on behalf of his clients in various areas of the law. Some of these appellate decisions are contained within his website.




There was a time when coin laundry operators only spoke of entering or leaving their businesses.  No more!   Since the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a new word has appeared in their vocabulary:  accessibility.


The provisions of the ADA took effect on January 26, 1992.  All buildings constructed after that date must adhere to the requirements of the ADA; and, buildings that were constructed up to this date must make “readily achievable” alterations.


In determining whether or not an alteration is “readily achievable,” the law requires that a business owner determine whether the modification can be accomplished “without much difficulty or expense.”  Inexpensive steps to be undertaken by a business owner generally include the following:


1.                                      Ramping one step,

2.                                      Installing a bathroom grab bar,

3.                                      Lowering a paper towel dispenser,

4.                                      Rearranging furniture,

5.                                      Installing offset hinges to widen a doorway, or

6.                                      Painting new lines to create an accessible parking space.


The ADA does not require a business owner to remove barriers to accessibility overnight.  A government website on this subject notes that:


“A small business may find that installing a ramp is not readily achievable this year, but if profits improve it will be readily achievable next year.  Businesses are encouraged to evaluate their facilities and develop a long-term plan for barrier removal that is commensurate with their resources.”


A written plan, containing a budget provided with an accountant’s input, may thus prove helpful in defending an action asserting a violation of the ADA. It is always useful to demonstrate that you seek to comply with, rather than ignore, the law.


Enforcement of the ADA is undertaken by the Department of Justice which seeks compensatory damages and civil penalties. The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a website entitled “Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act” which can be found at  You may also reach an ADA telephone information line at (800) 514-0301.


In recent years, private, disabled individuals have also filed legal actions asserting violations of the ADA.  A number of these lawsuits have been commenced against coin laundry operators.


These individual actions allege a failure to comply with state and federal access laws, assert claims of discrimination, a violation of civil rights in that there is a denial of equal access to the use and enjoyment of the business, negligence, and seek injunctive relief and compensatory damages.  Many of the complaints filed are so-called “form” complaints which allege every violation imaginable and may simultaneously be brought against every small business within a shopping center.


Some complaints merely quote the requirements of the statute alleging that the business has violated each and every one of the requirements.  In these circumstances, a business defendant is put to the burden of conducting discovery by interrogatories or depositions in order to ascertain the specific violation with which the disabled plaintiff is concerned.


One such complaint, for example, alleged the following general violations without identifying the manner in which any violation occurred:


“Plaintiffs are informed and believe, and thus allege that architectural barriers which are structural in nature exist at the following physical elements of Defendants’ facilities:  Space Allowance and Reach Ranges, Accessible Route, Protruding Objects, Ground and Floor Surfaces, Parking and Passenger Loading Zones, Curb Ramps, Ramps, Stairs, Elevators, Platform Lifts (Wheelchair Lifts), Windows, Doors, Entrances, Drinking Fountains and Water Coolers, Water Closets, Toilet Stalls, Urinals, Lavatories and Mirrors, Sinks, Storage, Handrails, Grab Bars, and Controls and Operating Mechanisms, Alarms, Detectable Warnings, Signage, and Telephones.”


Frequently, disabled plaintiffs file these actions without notifying the defendant in advance of the violations and providing an opportunity to effect necessary alterations.  One U.S. District Judge ruled that one such plaintiff was “running a systematic scheme of extortion” and was prohibited from filing an ADA lawsuit in federal court again without judicial permission.  The disabled plaintiff, in order to avoid seeking such permission, renewed his litigation activity in state court.


If you, as a coin laundry operator, are confronted with such a complaint, what are your choices?  You can, of course, retain legal counsel and pursue a defense of the action.  After the dust settles, you will have paid substantial legal fees and probably paid the plaintiff a few thousand dollars in exchange for a dismissal of the action to avoid the further financial and emotional pressures of a trial.  In the process of a litigation, you will probably have undertaken some alterations of the premises so as to comply with the ADA.


Why not simply comply immediately and avoid the potential for this aggravation?  There are a number of contractors who have acquired expertise in ADA requirements and can advise you by a survey of your premises what would be required to put you in compliance.  Whatever the cost of retaining such an expert and undertaking the required repairs, the cost will likely be substantially less than your involvement in this type of litigation.


The moral of the story?  When dealing with the law, it is generally more economical in time and money to comply than to evade!

[This column is intended to provide general information only  and
is  not intended to provide specific legal advice; if you have  a
specific  question  regarding the  law,  you  should  contact  an
attorney  of your choice.  Suggestions for topics to be discussed
in this column are welcome.]

Reprinted from The Journal
Myles M. Mattenson © 2005