Related Attorney: Bradley D. Ross
Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Senate Bill 1186, a measure aimed at helping to curb the rampant and abusive filing of ADA lawsuits in California. Property owners and lessors are all too familiar with lawsuits brought under the Americans With Disabilities Act, whereby disabled plaintiffs assert that they were denied full access to certain businesses and properties. It is estimated that between 25,000 and 35,000 ADA lawsuits have been brought in California alone over the last few years. Indeed, while California has approximately 12% of the nation’s population, over 40% of all ADA lawsuits in the United States were filed in California.
Small businesses have been hit particularly hard by such lawsuits, which seek statutory damages and the recovery of attorney’s fees if any violations are established. Given the cost of defending such suits, the overwhelming majority of such claims are settled, with property owners often feeling that they have been subject to a “shakedown.”
The new legislation is the result of a political compromise, and doesn’t go far enough to completely eliminate unwarranted cases. However, it does create the following new restrictions and reforms:
Unfortunately, the legislation stopped short of providing property owners and lessors with an absolute right to cure period before statutory penalties or fees would arise, and the new law won’t eliminate unwarranted demands by plaintiffs’ counsel for attorney’s fees. However, this legislation, which was signed by Governor Brown as an urgency measure and takes effect immediately, is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, this new law will provide property owners and lessors with some relief.
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