California Chamber of Commerce-supported legislation providing businesses with time to correct an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
The bill, SB 585 (Niello; D-Sacramento), prohibits construction-related accessibility claims from being started until a business has been served with a letter specifying each alleged violation and given 120 days to correct the alleged violation.
Because of California’s current framework for construction-related ADA claims, a limited group of attorneys has been targeting businesses to leverage extortion-type settlements for technical construction-related standards that do not actually impede physical access to the facility for patrons with disabilities.
An alleged violation for something as simple as not having the appropriate signage or symbol can prompt a claim but doesn’t necessarily impede physical access to a facility and can be resolved quickly.
Unfortunately, business owners are being pressured into paying settlements for these lawsuits instead of focusing financial resources on improving access at their place of business.
Providing businesses with the opportunity to fix all alleged violations within 120 days of receiving a demand letter, as proposed by SB 585, will encourage improved access in California and curb frivolous litigation, allowing businesses to avoid high-price tag shakedowns.
SB 585 passed Senate Judiciary on May 2 with bipartisan support and will be considered next by the full Senate.