Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Reform Effort – SB 1186
We are extremely pleased to announce that a bill that was signed this week by Governor Brown is BOMA Calfornia's ADA reform measure, SB 1186. This measure will curb lawsuit abuse regarding the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) while promoting increased compliance with disabled accessibility building codes.
This is the culmination of a multi-year, bipartisan effort, that included leadership from state level elected officials Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), with federal support coming from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
This bill is being hailed as the most comprehensive and significant reform to California’s ADA Law. It passed the Legislature by a two-thirds vote in the wee hours of Friday night. Currently, California has 40 percent of the nation’s ADA lawsuits but only 12 percent of the country’s disabled population.
Among other things, this measure: prohibits pre-litigation 'demands for money' by attorneys; puts into place new provisions to prevent the stacking of multiple claims to increase statutory damages; reduces statutory damages and provides litigation protections for defendants who correct violations; and, establishes priorities for the California Commission on Disabled Accessibility that promote and facilitate disability access compliance. Here are some more specifics on the main provisions of the bill:
- If a businesses is in a location that was completed after Jan. 1, 2008 or any business in California that has received a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) inspection, that business will have 60 days to fix that violation and their statutory damages may be reduced from $4,000 to $1,000 – a 75 percent reduction.
- Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees that have not had a CASp inspection will have 30 days to fix a violation and can see their statutory damages reduced from $4,000 to $2,000 – a 50 percent reduction.
- SB 1186 ends 'demand for money' letters from attorneys. Letters can still be sent to a business alerting them of a potential violation or infraction, but that letter can’t include a 'demand for money'. Attorneys sending those letters will be required to also send a copy of the letter to the California State Bar, who will examine the letter to make sure it meets the requirements of the law.
Attorneys will also be required to send a copy of letters sent to businesses to the California Commission on Disabilities (CCDA). They will be required to compile a top ten list of violations to be posted on their website by July 1, 2013 and also a list of those attorneys and law firms who are filing the bulk of the lawsuits.
SB 1186 provides an avenue for local cities and counties to expand the CASp program in their communities, to help bring local businesses into ADA compliance and develop tools to help educate the business community in expanding ADA access.
This bill could not have passed were it not for efforts from BOMA California members and partners that we have worked with over the past year in Sacramento. The CalChamber and CBIA were right there with us helping with the heavy lifting on this bill, as well as several others. We want to thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1186, and everyone who helped get it to his desk!
Click here for a news story about the bill.