Category: Lawsuit Law,
Senate Bill 1186 signed by Governor Brown on September 19, 2012, will help businesses sued for ADA accessibility issues. The new law limits damages.
Before SB1186 became law, any property which did not comply with applicable accessibility requirements faced statutory damages of $4,000 for each event or occurrence of discrimination. Court opinions have held that an event or occurrence of discrimination is a visit to the property by a disabled person. It has been very common for defendants to make multiple trips to the same property in order to increase their damages claim.
SB1186 reduces the minimum statutory damages to $1,000 per event of discrimination when a defendant has obtained a CASp report and corrects the alleged construction related accessibility violations within 60 days of being served with the lawsuit.
A second provision of the law provides a reduced damage amount of $2,000 for each event of discrimination when a defendant corrects all construction related accessibility violations within thirty days of being served the complaint when the business qualifies as a “Small Business Defendant.” A small business defendant is any business which has twenty five or fewer employees and no more than 3.5 million dollars in annual gross receipts.
To benefit from the new law, a business needs to hire a Certified Accessibility Specialist (CASp), have an accessibility evaluation done and begin the process of completing upgrades and alterations to bring the property into compliance with California and Federal ADA access requirements. The new law should help discourage access lawsuits because the reward for filing suit will be less for any property which has hired a CASp and completes the alterations with the time identified in the law.