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California ADA ‘baby step’ reform passes Legislature, heads to governor’s desk

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April 29, 2016

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California ADA reform passes Legislature

Source: Modesto Bee

Bill would not erase abusive lawsuits but could help some small businesses

The battle against predatory lawsuits rooted in barriers to disabled patrons got a boost this week with noncontroversial legislation awaiting the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 269, backed by three lawmakers from this area, would allow some small businesses time to fix minor, technical violations of laws requiring access for the disabled. It falls far short of the meaningful reform sought by opponents of predatory lawsuits, but represents their first potential victory after years of unsuccessful effort.

“Predatory lawyers have been using ADA laws as a get-rich-quick scheme,” said Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca, the bill’s principal co-author.

THERE HAS BEEN WIDESPREAD MEDIA COVERAGE ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF WHAT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS SERIAL ADA LITIGATION. A HANDFUL OF HIGHLY LITIGIOUS PLAINTIFFS HAVE IN FACT TARGETED SMALL BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY THOSE WITHOUT THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND SOPHISTICATION TO CHALLENGE SUCH LAWSUITS ON THEIR MERITS.

Chuck Nicol, Assembly Committee on Appropriations analysis

She referred to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that businesses accommodate disabled customers. Critics say it’s used in concert with California law to extort payouts from bewildered companies without helping the disabled much.

SB 269 would give businesses with less than 50 employees 120 days to make minor repairs when facing lawsuits alleging, for example, that the color of parking lot striping or signs is slightly off or faded, allowing companies to avoid what Galgiani calls “exorbitant damages.” Such lawsuits typically seek $4,000 for each violation detected.

THIS GOES A LONG WAY TO ENSURE THAT BUSINESSES WHICH HAVE INTENT OF COMPLYING, BUT DIDN’T GET A 100 PERCENT PERFECT A SCORE, ARE PROTECTED.

The battle against predatory lawsuits rooted in barriers to disabled patrons got a boost this week with noncontroversial legislation awaiting the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 269, backed by three lawmakers from this area, would allow some small businesses time to fix minor, technical violations of laws requiring access for the disabled. It falls far short of the meaningful reform sought by opponents of predatory lawsuits, but represents their first potential victory after years of unsuccessful effort.

“Predatory lawyers have been using ADA laws as a get-rich-quick scheme,” said Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Manteca, the bill’s principal co-author.

THERE HAS BEEN WIDESPREAD MEDIA COVERAGE ABOUT THE PROBLEM OF WHAT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS SERIAL ADA LITIGATION. A HANDFUL OF HIGHLY LITIGIOUS PLAINTIFFS HAVE IN FACT TARGETED SMALL BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY THOSE WITHOUT THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES AND SOPHISTICATION TO CHALLENGE SUCH LAWSUITS ON THEIR MERITS.

Chuck Nicol, Assembly Committee on Appropriations analysis

She referred to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires that businesses accommodate disabled customers. Critics say it’s used in concert with California law to extort payouts from bewildered companies without helping the disabled much.

SB 269 would give businesses with less than 50 employees 120 days to make minor repairs when facing lawsuits alleging, for example, that the color of parking lot striping or signs is slightly off or faded, allowing companies to avoid what Galgiani calls “exorbitant damages.” Such lawsuits typically seek $4,000 for each violation detected.

THIS GOES A LONG WAY TO ENSURE THAT BUSINESSES WHICH HAVE INTENT OF COMPLYING, BUT DIDN’T GET A 100 PERCENT PERFECT A SCORE, ARE PROTECTED.

Sen. Cathleen Galgiani

Running a business in California “is not an easy task,” said Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, “especially when broken and abused state laws make them vulnerable to predatory lawsuits.”

Read more here: https://www.modbee.com/news/article74534422.html#storylink=cpy

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