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Bill To Limit ADA Compliance "Abusive Lawsuits" Heads To Governor Brown

Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

A bill headed to Governor Jerry Brown would give businesses 120 days to fix minor sign violations before Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits could be filed.

Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

California leads the nation in the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance lawsuits.

The financial judgments can devastate a small business that fails to provide handicapped parking or has inaccessible bathrooms.

Federal legislation introduced in March 2016 by Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) would give businesses 90 days to correct ADA problems before a lawsuit could proceed.

The state legislation (SB 269) would give businesses 120 days to fix minor sign violations before lawsuits could be filed.

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"So even though it's much more narrower bill than the McNerney bill, assuming Governor Brown signs it, which I hope he does, if he signs this, this will be the first time that we have in California law something in the Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit arena where you do get a chance to fix it, rather than just being sued about money," says Kim Stone, President of the Civil Justice Association of California.              

Stone says the bill is a step toward reducing what she calls "abusive lawsuits." 

"The idea of giving businesses a chance to know what the problem is and a chance to fix it before being sued is good because it does two things: One, it reduces unnecessary lawsuits and two, it improves access for the disabled to the establishment," says Stone.