In a couple of our previous posts, we discussed the ongoing issue of small businesses being hit with frivolous lawsuits for alleged non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). California law differs from other states’ laws with regard to these kinds of legal claims, and California businesses have been forced to settle ADA claims rather than challenge them. The problem is that settling is often less expensive than fighting a frivolous claim.
Back in October we reported that lawmakers had not yet taken action to protect California businesses from frivolous ADA lawsuits, but now a state Senate bill has been introduced specifically for this purpose.
If passed into law, Senate Bill 67 would require a plaintiff to prove in court that alleged non-compliance with the ADA has resulted in harm to the plaintiff. Currently, a person who brings a disability-access claim doesn’t have to prove that harm actually resulted from non-compliance.
Additionally, the bill would give businesses a period of time to make ADA-required accommodations without having to pay fines.
If the changes take effect, they are expected to be a disincentive for consumer attorneys who repeatedly exploit the current situation.
State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani introduced the bill, which she says has a fairly good chance of being passed, as her colleagues know that people in the business community throughout the state have been hit with frivolous ADA lawsuits. She went on to say that the bill would likely not get legislative hearings for another few months.
Business owners with disability-access concerns should in the meantime speak with a business litigation attorney.