ADA Lawsuits and the Public Sector

Tom Scott
Executive Director, California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse

Last year’s passage of SB 1186 was a good first step to providing some relief to small business owners who are trying to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Small businesses are still being sued for ADA violations, though. Just the other day I spoke to an Asian business owner who was being sued under the ADA for $10,000 in La Puente.

But small businesses aren’t the only ones still dealing with ADA lawsuits. Last year, Yuba City agreed to pay $15,000 to George Louie, a prolific ADA violation plaintiff, to prevent him from bringing any more lawsuits against the city and its businesses. Louis has filed over 1,000 ADA-related claims against small businesses and local government. These types of payouts just encourage more lawyers to come file abusive ADA lawsuits in Yuba City in search of a payday.

Elsewhere, ADA lawsuits are continuing to cost local governments millions. The City of Los Angeles recently settled two ADA cases alleging the city’s sidewalks violated the ADA, costing the city about $85 million. The city is facing four more cases that could leave the city on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more, in addition to the cost of all the sidewalk repair.

This is not an easy fix and it is going to cost billions for this state’s public sector facilities to become ADA compliant – and until they are, the local governments will be open to lawsuits alleging ADA violations, which could cost billions more.

That’s why CALA applauds Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen’s AB 223, which would give local governments a window of 30-60 days to correct any ADA violations before a lawsuit could commence.

For the City of Los Angeles and several other cities looking at large budget shortfalls, AB 223 just may be what the doctor ordered. But the bill will have a tough road ahead of it. The Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees have scuttled several ADA reforms, and unlike SB 1186, this one  doesn’t have the backing of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

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