All of us who work in the commercial retail arena have been dealing with ADA lawsuits for decades. I have personally seen multiple access reform bills come and go while watching the increase in frivolous access suits ravage this country. It is time to hit this problem head on. One bill was introduced in the House on October 20th back in 2015 by Rep Ted Poe from Texas. It was then ordered to be amended on July 7th 2016.
I believe the new bill is H.R 620
Let’s hope this new congress will act on this bill and start the process of addressing this epidemic of frivolous lawsuits nationwide.
Here is a snapshot of the original H.R. 3765
This bill requires the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice to develop a program to educate state and local governments and property owners on strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability. The program may include training for professionals to provide a guidance of remediation for potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
The bill prohibits persons from, and subjects violators to a criminal fine for, sending demand letters or other pre-suit notifications alleging a violation of ADA public accommodation requirements if the notification does not specify the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access.
The notification must specify:
- the address of property,
- the specific ADA sections alleged to have been violated,
- whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier was made, and
- whether the barrier was permanent or temporary.
The bill also prohibits commencement of civil action based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation unless: (1) the aggrieved person has provided to the owners or operators a written notice specific enough to identify the barrier, and (2) the owners or operators fail to provide the person with a written description outlining improvements that will be made to improve the barrier or they fail to remove the barrier or make substantial progress after providing such a description.
The Judicial Conference of the United States must develop a model program to promote alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve such claims. The model program should include an expedited method for determining relevant facts related to such barriers and steps to resolve accessibility issues before litigation.
The International Council of Shopping Centers has been very active in educating their members and promoting real change to the current system which is a twisted legal form of extortion.
Betsy Laird, Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy for the International Council of Shopping Centers sent out information to all ICSC members recently asking all of us to act and help bring positive change in our home states.
Dear ICSC Member,
After witnessing a continued increase year after year in the number of lawsuits related to often minor infractions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ICSC and others in the business community were pleased to see a recognition on the part of Congress to address the problem legislatively. In the most recent Congress, HR 3765, the “ADA Education and Reform Act” was introduced and approved by the House Judiciary Committee. It is essentially a notice and cure bill, specifically aimed at addressing the problem of “drive-by” lawsuits. While the bill was not acted upon before the end of session, ICSC is pleased to inform you that reintroduction of this legislation is imminent in the House of Representatives and we need your help on two key action items.
First, we need you to send an email to your Representative today asking him or her to be an original sponsor. Maintaining bipartisan support from Republicans and Democrats is imperative to moving this issue forward.
CLICK HERE TO SEND AN EMAIL
Second, ICSC is working alongside its coalition partners to gather data on the spread of lawsuits alleging barriers to access throughout the country. This survey data will assist ICSC to demonstrate that these suits are not isolated to select states, but in fact are widespread and deserving of congressional intervention. There are only about a dozen questions and your participation is invaluable to our advocacy efforts.
ICSC vigorously supports the intent of the ADA and its compliance. ICSC also believes property owners should be given the opportunity to improve access in shopping centers for the disabled community in a defined period of time once an alleged ADA violation has been identified.
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Senior Vice President, Global Public Policy
I personally took the survey provided above and highly recommend that everyone wanting to take a bite out of this “drive-by” ADA lawsuit industry do the same.
It is a great sign that the some of the activist’s groups that are “pro-lawsuit” are angry that this bill may get a serious look by congress and that real reform may happen very soon.
Here is a statement from the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights Coalition regarding H.R. 3765 and its potential impact on what they claim is an attack on disabled rights!
“On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States, we write to express our strong opposition to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Education and Reform Act of 2015 (H.R. 3765).
The Leadership Conference believes in strong and vigorous enforcement of the ADA. Yet several bills have been introduced in Congress that limit the power of the ADA and reduce compliance with the law. We oppose any such efforts, including H.R. 3765, to limit the ability of people with disabilities to vindicate their rights in court.
H.R. 3765 imposes several additional steps on plaintiffs before they can file a civil action for an accessibility violation in a public accommodation case. It would also impose criminal fines if demand letters or other pre-suit notifications alleging violations of ADA public accommodation requirements are not sufficiently specific.
Such restrictions and penalties on the ability of people to attempt to vindicate their rights fly in the face of the intent of civil rights statutes, which were enacted to ensure the protections of those marginalized in our society. For these reasons, we urge you to oppose the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2015.”
I firmly believed in “true access” and have worked very hard for the last 15 years to bring the highest level of access for all disabled within the commercial retail, office, industrial and housing markets. But when a select group of disabled activists file thousands of frivolous suits and destroy the very business that they claim they are trying to visit and purchase goods and services from, I have a very hard time understanding how this helps the disabled community at all.
Please take a moment and take the survey and email these co-sponsors of this newest bill.
If you have any questions or want to discuss this in more detail, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.