There has been a lot of focus on what will California do this year to stop the shakedown lawsuits associated with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). Many bipartisan bills have been introduced at the state level (including AB 52, AB 54 and SB 67), but to solve the problem we also need the federal government to take steps to stop these shakedown artists.
Well, there’s good news on that front. Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50) have re-introduced the ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act – . This legislation is designed to help small businesses comply with the ADA, and stop the abusive ADA lawsuits that have hurt so many businesses in California.
“The purpose of the ADA is not to give abusive trial lawyers access to the hard earned money earned by small businesses,” said Rep. Calvert when he reintroduced the bill. “The ACCESS Act will ensure that disabled individuals continue to have access throughout our communities while protecting small businesses from abusive lawsuits. The important thing is to find ways to improve access, not fleece small business owners and jeopardize jobs.”
The ACCESS Act requires someone who wants to file a lawsuit against a business for an ADA violation provide the business owner/operator a written notice of the violation. The owner/operator would have 60 days to provide the plaintiff a description outlining the improvements that would be made to address the barrier, and then have 120 days to address the violation. If the owner/operator fails to meet any of these conditions, the lawsuit could then move forward.
CALA applauds Representatives Calvert and Hunter for reintroducing this critical legislation. A whole host of additional elected officials have signed on to H.R. 241. I hope more will join them, and that it can be a truly bipartisan effort like the ADA bills here in California.
California has over 40% of the nation’s ADA lawsuits, while having only 12% of the country’s population. But this isn’t just a California problem. Other states like Florida, Louisiana New York and Minnesota are beginning to see more of these lawsuits. That’s why the ACCESS Act deserves to become law.