No feet - but he's suing over a pedicure

By Ellen Tumposky, June 16, 2011
Lawsuit happy: Zoltan Hirsch

Lawsuit happy: Zoltan Hirsch

A wheelchair-bound Chasidic Jew has filed more than 80 lawsuits in the past year over handicapped access, including suing a pedicure salon in Manhattan - even though he has no feet.

Zoltan Hirsch, 31, of Brooklyn, lost his legs in a car accident, according to the New York Post. His lawsuits typically cite violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, such as lack of door access or items being piled too high for a wheelchair user to reach.

His suits normally request $500 in damages plus legal fees, which can run into thousands.

Aya Islamova, the owner of Red and White Spa in SoHo, whose pedicure outlet was sued by Mr Hirsch, said she had never seen Mr Hirsch or spoken to him on the phone.

"It's absurd. He's trying to get a pedicure without having his legs. I feel sorry for him, but this doesn't make any sense," said Ms Islamova. "We think this is how he makes his living. He's all over the city."

Mr Hirsch has also sued Louis Vuitton in SoHo and the City Crab restaurant - an unlikely destination for one who keeps kosher. In May alone, he filed 36 suits.

Under the Disabilities Act, if a violation is found, even a minor one, the defendant may have to pay legal fees. Businesses that are sued often settle quickly to avoid mounting costs. "It's frustrating," said Ms Islamova. "We think it's totally unfair." She said her business had two small steps outside.

Sanctuary T, a SoHo restaurant, was also sued by Mr Hirsch over access. On its menu, items include Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwich and Papaya Shrimp Salad - unlikely choices for Mr Hirsch.

His lawyer, Bradley Weitz of Florida, who specialises in such suits, did not return a call seeking comment.

Last updated: 2:57pm, June 16 2011