ACCESS ACT H.R 241 fights frivolous ADA lawsuit practice

California lawmakers are hard at work to advance the fight against “frivolous ADA lawsuits”

Let’s go back two years and look at H.R 777 introduced in the House of Representatives in 2013 as the ADA Notification Act.

The goal of the ADA Notification Act of 2013 intended to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to deny jurisdiction to a state or federal court in a civil action as plaintiff commences for remedies for disability discrimination in public accommodations and certain services provided by private entities unless:

1) The plaintiff notified the defendant in writing of the alleged violations prior to filing the complaint,

2) The notice identified the specific facts that constitute the alleged violation,

3) A remedial period of 90 days elapses after the notice,

4) The notice informed the defendant that the civil action could not be commenced for 90 days, and

5) The complaint states that the defendant has not corrected the alleged violation.

Unfortunately, this act was not enacted.

Now two years later the fight continues to pass legislature to greatly reduce frivolous lawsuit practice throughout the country.

U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) has joined Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) as a co-sponsor of H.R. 241 the ACCESS Act, a bill intended to give small businesses adequate time to comply with ADA regulations and protect them from predatory lawsuits.

Several states including California have seen a drastic increase in the number of predatory, drive-by lawsuits accusing local small businesses of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. These predatory attorneys’ target minority and immigrant owned businesses ill-equipped to fight off lawsuits as well as large local and national retailers that are known for settling quickly to reduce costs and attorneys’ fees. The ACCESS Act will enable small businesses to receive notice and have an opportunity to remove any barriers and stop an expensive lawsuit in its tracks.

The ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act would require any disabled individual intending on taking legal action in response to a possible ADA violation to provide the business owner with written notification of the problem. Within 60 days after receiving written notification, the landlord or tenant would be required to respond with a plan to address the violation.

The landlord or tenant would then have an additional 120 days to remove the specific barriers in question.

The ACCESS (ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services) Act would greatly reduce the financial burden small businesses deal with and continue to meet the intent and purpose of the ADA. Any disabled person who feels they have been denied equal access and claim a violation of the ADA would provide the landlord or tenant with a written notice of the violation, specific enough to allow the owner or operator to identify the barrier to their access. Within 60 days the landlord or tenant would be required to provide the complainant with a plan outlining improvements that would be made to remove the barriers. The landlord or tenant would then have 120 days to remove the barriers. The failure to meet any of these conditions would allow the suit to advance forward.

The purpose of the ADA is to ensure appropriate action is taken to remove barriers that would cause any disabled person harm. Although there are times when litigation by harmed individuals is necessary, there are an increasing number of lawsuits brought under the ADA that are for the sole purpose of huge profits rather than to achieve the appropriate accessibility upgrades. ADA lawsuits are especially prevalent in California. According to the California Chamber of Commerce, California has 40% of the nation’s ADA lawsuits but only 12% of the country’s disabled population. Frivolous lawsuits place huge financial burdens on small businesses and often times they are unaware of the specific details of the allegations brought against them.

Below is a list of House members that have signed on to cosponsor the H.R. 241 ACCESS Act:

1)   Doug LaMalfa    (R-CA-1)

2)   Tom McClintock (R-CA-4)

3)   Paul Cook          (R-CA-8)

4)   Jeff Dunham      (R-CA-10)

5)   David Valadao   (R-CA-21)

6)   Devin Nunes      (R-CA-22)

7)   Ed Royce           (R-CA-39)

8)   Mimi Walters      (R-CA-45)

9)   Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48)

10) Darrell Issa         (R-CA-49)

11) Lynn Jenkins (R-KS-2)

12) Mike Simpson (R-ID-2)

13) Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3)

I applaud these representatives’ and fully support their efforts to provide relief for small business owners as well as an effective method for all landlords and tenants to properly bring their business into compliance with our accessibility standards.

If you don’t see your representatives’ name listed above, reach out to your local representative and urge them to join the growing list of brave lawmakers willing to stand up and make some much needed change to our ADA laws.

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One Response to “ACCESS ACT H.R 241 fights frivolous ADA lawsuit practice”

  1. Jim Henderson February 6, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Why haven’t all businesses remediated their barriers already? This law has been on the books for 24 years at the Federal level and longer at the CA. State level.

    Business must comply with building codes, health codes, fores codes, insurance obligations, tax codes etc. Why do they think they can get away with ADA violations until someone sues them.

    Having personally spoken to over 400 hundred small businesses, and guess what, not one had voluntarily corrected their architectural barrier violations, even with tax credits, I have lost faith in small businesses following the law.

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