Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) introduced their first bills for the 2015-16 Legislative Session on Dec. 1 with the purpose of reducing the number of frivolous lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so businesses can stay open while working to comply with access laws.
“Get-rich-quick lawsuit schemes that cause businesses to close, reduce hours, or lay off employees violate the spirit of ADA and should not be tolerated,” said Olsen.
Olsen described the proposed bill (AB 54) as a commonsense solution that would protect businesses and employees while requiring compliance to access laws.
Construction-related accessibility standards change regularly, which can make it difficult for small businesses to maintain compliance. The bill would provide businesses the opportunity to resolve ADA violations within 60 days, so long as the construction-related accessibility standards related to the specified violation have changed within three years.
“These well-intentioned measures are meant to give everyone equal access, but they’ve been abused by a select group who shakedown our local businesses for a quick buck,” said Gray. “People have lost their jobs, and businesses have shutdown, because the law has a loophole that is being exploited.”
Gray’s measure, AB 52, would aim to significantly reduce or eliminate statutory damages if a small business corrects violations within 180 days.
“Well-intentioned businesses in California need relief from what can be extortionate lawsuits over technical or minor ADA violations. This bill will reduce lawsuits and will improve access – it's a win-win,” said Kim Stone, President of Civil Justice Association of California.
Additional cosponsors to the proposed pieces of legislation include: Senators Tom Berryhill (R- Twain Harte), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), and Assemblymembers Bigelow (R- O'Neals), Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), Henry Perea (D-Fresno), and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield).
AB 54 and AB 52 are awaiting assignments to policy committees.