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New Laws Seeks To Curb Disability Suits Against Small Businesses

Steve Johnson / Flickr
 

Steve Johnson / Flickr

A state commission that tracks disability access claims found that, in 2015, attorneys demanded restitution for almost 10,000 violations. The number one complaint? Non-compliant loading zones. Number two? Problems with parking lot signage.

Hotel and restaurant attorney Jim Butler says suing for minor infractions is a cottage industry for some law firms in California.

"They have really turned this from trying to get protection for disabled people into an abusive living for themselves," says Butler. "The abusers are not really people who have been disadvantaged or frustrated. They’re just people who are trying to figure out how to file two dozen lawsuits tomorrow."

Lawmakers found this argument persuasive. They passed the bill through both houses of the state Legislature in less than two weeks and without a ‘no’ vote. It gives businesses with less than 25 employees more protection from lawsuits about wrong sign order, wording, or color.

Disability Rights California opposed the measure, saying it’s too expansive. But Govenor Jerry Brown signed it into law Tuesday, and it took effect immediately.

 ADA

Ben Bradford

State Government Reporter

As the State Government Reporter, Ben covers California politics, policy and the interaction between the two. He previously reported on local and state politics, business, energy, and environment for WFAE in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Read Full Bio