On May 8, 2012, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee defeated A.B. 1878 (Beth Gaines-R) by a clean party-line vote of 3-7. This bill would have provided businesses much needed relief from frivolous ADA lawsuits. Under this legislation, businesses would have been granted 120 days to come into compliance with ADA regulations or create a plan to do so with a certified access specialist after receiving a written notification of a problem, before they could be sued.
As a recent article in the Auburn Journal discussed, over 40 California businesses showed up at the hearing to show their support, with 64 businesses in Auburn alone being sued for ADA compliance issues. It is clear that relief is needed, but yet the committee, and the legislature as a whole, is deaf to the community business people. Business owners support making every business accessible for disabled people, but lawsuits are not the way to achieve that end. As Hall pointed out, “The only way to get out of it for most folks is to pay up. It doesn’t do anything to make access better.”
Even more surprising is that this defeat comes in the wake of US Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent letter urging California legislators to address the excessive amount of “predatory” disability lawsuits that are plaguing the state. As discussed in a previousHellholes posting, Feinstein is concerned about the “shakedown” tactics being used by plaintiffs’ attorneys when demanding monetary settlements from business owners. Feinstein made it very clear that if state legislators did not reach a resolution on their own, she was going to take matters into her own hands in the US Senate.
It appears as though, once again, California legislators are turning a blind eye to the problem, and are going to continue hurting the state economy by driving businesses out of California.