Contact: Denise Davis
SACRAMENTO, CA — Two California Chamber of Commerce-supported job creator bills dealing with ADA compliance will be heard as a special order of business in the Assembly Judiciary Committee today. A third job creator bill on the subject has not yet been set for hearing.
Scheduled today are AB 52 (Gray; D-Merced) and AB 54 (Olsen; R-Modesto). AB 52 (Gray) seeks to improve access for disabled customers and limit frivolous litigation against businesses for construction-related accessibility claims by providing an opportunity for the businesses to resolve any potential violations in a timely fashion. AB 54 (Olsen) seeks to improve access for disabled patrons without harming businesses through frivolous lawsuits by providing businesses with a 60-day right to correct the violation for a claim based upon a constructed related accessibility standard that was changed or modified in the prior three years.
“These bills are sensible solutions that will result in improved access for disabled customers while limiting frivolous litigation,” said Jennifer Barrera, CalChamber policy advocate. “For those violations that truly are technical and do not deny an individual with a disability the opportunity to gain access to a business, there should be a right for the business to correct the violation before being sued.”
Cottage Industry of Litigation
According to CalChamber support letters on AB 52 (Gray; D-Merced) and AB 54 (Olsen; R-Modesto) to the Assembly Judiciary Committee, California’s current statutory framework for construction-related accessibility claims have resulted in small businesses being targeted by a limited group of attorneys to leverage extortion-type settlements for technical construction-related standards. These technical changes do not actually impede physical access to the facility for disabled patrons. Businesses are pressured into paying settlements for these lawsuits instead of focusing financial resources on improving access at the business.
Both bills will provide businesses with an opportunity to correct alleged violations within specified timeframes of receiving a civil complaint, which will encourage improved access in California.
Specifically, AB 52 will reduce statutory damages for businesses that have resolved any construction-related accessibility standard within 180 days of receiving a civil complaint. In exchange for fixing the alleged violation, AB 52 would reduce the statutory damages from $4,000 to $1,000. According to the CalChamber’s analysis, this reduction creates a fair balance between providing a remedy for the fixed violation, yet also recognizing the good faith efforts of the business at efficiently resolving the alleged violation.
AB 54 provides business owners with 60 days to correct an alleged accessibility violation that is based upon a recently enacted construction-related accessibility standard. If the violation is resolved within the 60-day period, the business owner would not be assessed any statutory damages. The Chamber believes AB 54 creates a balanced approach to the current lawsuit abuse regarding construction-related accessibility claims by providing a limited opportunity to correct recently modified construction-related accessibility standards of which the business owner may not have been aware.
Third Job Creator Awaits Hearing
SB 67 (Galgiani; D-Stockton) would also limit frivolous litigation against small businesses for alleged construction-related accessibility violations. The bill would eliminate statutory damages and provide only injunctive relief and attorney’s fees.
According to the CalChamber’s analysis, the bill will allow claims that have merit to still be filed but discourage frivolous claims from being pursued. SB 67 also extends the period to resolve the alleged violation in order to reduce the statutory damages from $4,000 to $1,000. This reduction creates a fair balance between providing a remedy for the fixed violation, yet also recognizing the good faith efforts of the business at efficiently resolving the alleged violation.
SB 67 will allow a small business to utilize its resources in a manner that improves accessibility for all patrons, so that it can continue to succeed and expand in California.
The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) is the largest broad-based business advocate to government in California. Membership represents one-quarter of the private sector jobs in California and includes firms of all sizes and companies from every industry within the state. Leveraging our front-line knowledge of laws and regulations, we provide products and services to help businesses comply with both federal and state law. CalChamber, a not-for-profit organization with roots dating to 1890, promotes international trade and investment in order to stimulate California’s economy and create jobs. Please visit our website at calchamber.com.