Lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in California have severely impacted businesses small and large alike. In some cases, such lawsuits have even forced small businesses to close their doors. These lawsuits hurt local economies and cost jobs.
When I speak to small business owners about lawsuit abuse, ADA lawsuits are consistently among their top concerns. California has approximately 42 percent of all ADA lawsuits in the United States, but only 12 percent of the nation’s population.
These are some of the reasons I am urging Governor Brown to sign SB 1186, which will significantly reduce abusive ADA lawsuits. This bill, authored by State Senators Steinberg and Dutton, is a bipartisan measure supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders.
Here are some of the highlights of SB 1186:
- Caps statutory damages at $1,000, instead of $4,000, for any defendant who corrects all violations within 60 days.
- Allows a defendant to have minimum statutory damages reduced to $2,000 when they correct the violation within 30 days.
- Allows a defendant to request an early evaulation period if a violation is corrected within a specified time period.
- Bans pre-litigation "demand for money" letters and creates rules for demand letters and complaints.
- For any property leased after January 1, 2013, requires a property owner and or lessor to notify the tenant if the property has undergone a CASp inspection. CASp inspections notify owners and tenants if buildings are in violation of ADA regulations.
- Requires the California Commission on Disability Access to promote and facilitate accessibility compliance.
- Requires cities and counties to inform business licensees of their responsibilities to comply with accessibility laws.
SB 1186 has several other provisions, but ultimately, what matters is that it reduces the shakedown ADA lawsuits and improves ADA compliance. CALA applauds Senators Steinberg and Dutton and their respective staffs for all their hard work. Governor Brown, I urge you to sign SB 1186.
California needs to stop the ADA lawsuits that are hurting our businesses and improve ADA compliance to allow full access for disabled Californians. This measure will help achieve both of these goals.