I heard some news out of Yuba City this past week that really makes me wonder what its leaders are thinking. After the city and several small businesses were hit by a flurry of lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Yuba City decided that it would become a trend setter.
The city agreed to pay George Louie, the lawyer behind these lawsuits, $15,000 to leave the city and its businesses alone for good. Louie took the settlement and promised he would never file ADA lawsuits in Yuba City again.
Really? The city paid this guy $15,000 on the promise that he will never file another ADA lawsuit in Yuba City? This payment sends the message that the city will be handing out five-figure payments using taxpayer dollars to any unscrupulous lawyer willing to sue the city and its businesses enough times. It will just encourage more lawyers to come file abusive ADA lawsuits in Yuba City in search of a payday. This money would be better spent on services for citizens, rather than a payout to this shakedown artist that serves only to encourage more abusive litigation.
It is unfortunate that this payout comes just weeks after Governor Brown signed SB 1186 into law, which reduces many of the incentives that encourage abusive ADA lawsuits. While SB 1186 won’t completely eliminate ADA lawsuits, it will go a long way toward stopping many of them. To truly stop abusive ADA lawsuits, we will need a solution at both the state and federal level, because abusive ADA lawsuits can be filed in both courts. One solution being discussed at the federal level is Congressman Dan Lungren's HR 3356.