Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week – A Time to Reflect on How Far We’ve Come and How Far We Have to Go

Rex Hime
President and CEO of the California Business Properties Association

As the President of California Business Properties Association (CBPA) I want to join with Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA) in recognizing Lawsuit Abuse Awareness Week (LAAW), which runs from October 1 through October 5. Between the tens of thousands of CALA supporters and the CBPA membership which totals over 11,000, I can tell you that the issue of legal reform is critical to getting California back on track. California’s leaders must take a stand if we are again to be a leading economic power.

One positive legal reform step just occurred in our legislature and was just signed by Governor Brown. I am speaking of SB 1186 by State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and State Senator Bob Dutton. This landmark legislation will be a critical step in trying to reform the rampant ADA lawsuit problem we have had in California. While it might not stop all the bad actors who have been running around this state filing abusive ADA lawsuits, it will certainly go a long way to reforming the problem.

CBPA, along with many others, including CALA, were key stakeholders in the discussions that led to this bipartisan legislative solution. I am proud of the fact that that we all were able to sit down and work through very complicated issues that will ultimately move our state towards better ADA compliance and curtail some of the abusive litigation that has been ravaging our state’s small businesses.

Some of the key components of SB 1186 are as follows:

1)    Reduced statutory damages and litigation protections for defendants who correct violations.

2)    New provisions to prevent stacking of multiple claims to increase statutory damages.

3)    Ban on demands for money and new rules for demand letters.

4)    State Bar review of demand letters and provisions for disciplining attorneys.

5)    Mandatory notice to property tenant of CASp status of the property.

6)    Provisions requiring local governments to provide information regarding disability access compliance to businesses upon renewal of business licenses.

7)    New add on fee of $1 to business license fee to strengthen CASp program and develop educational and training resources at state and local level to promote compliance.

Ultimately, SB 1186 will move the ball forward on ADA compliance and will take us in the right direction to stop the hand full of unscrupulous lawyers who are simply focused on shaking small businesses down. As we recognize LAAW this week, I hope people will take pride in the fact that this was a year that brought us some substantive legal reform in an area which desperately needed it. Let’s home this is a trend that brings more badly-needed legal reform to our state.

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