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ADA litigation among the costs of doing business in California

Recent legislation has changed the ADA-litigation landscape, and affected businesses should seek the advice of an experienced business litigator.
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    February 16, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- ADA litigation among the costs of doing business in California

Article provided by Karlin Law Firm
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Since January 2005, more than 16,500 lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act have been filed across the country, and California has seen more of these lawsuits than any other state. In this environment, employment-related litigation is an important and inevitable expense that California business owners cannot afford to ignore. Rather, such business owners should focus on retaining competent counsel that in the long run can effectively reduce the overall costs of doing business.

California as a focal point for ADA litigation

Under California law, a plaintiff suing under the ADA can obtain damages, attorneys fees, treble damages, minimum statutory damages of no less than $4,000 and punitive damages. As such, the incentive is strong for disgruntled employees to sue under the ADA regardless of whether they have a colorable claim. In this environment, the incentive for small business owners to settle and for disgruntled employees to bring nuisance lawsuits increases, and while recent changes in California law were passed with the intention of insulating certain business owners from undue liability, the situation may remain problematic for businesses.

Recent legislation

California SB 1186 was enacted through amendments to several California laws, including amendments to provisions of the California Civil Code, to provide protection for owners and operators of public accommodations. The changes instituted by the new law include:
-A provision allowing defendants to request a stay of court proceedings and early evaluation conference
-Reduction of the minimum statutory damages from $4,000 to $1,000 in certain circumstances
-Requirements that a court consider the reasonableness of a plaintiff's "stacked claims," that is, a situation where a plaintiff repeatedly visits the same property to file multiple claims for a single violation
-Ban on pre-litigation demand letters to discourage rent-seeking behavior based upon frivolous lawsuits
-Requirement that attorneys representing ADA plaintiffs provide written advisories to putative defendants, which must include the relevant statutory language, the attorney's state bar license number and details as to the basis for the claim

The changes in the new law will have effects for businesses that may be involved in ADA litigation.

What to do if your business is involved in ADA litigation

Despite the intentions of the law, it is questionable as to whether the intended effects will come to fruition. Delayed demand letters, for example, may only postpone the inevitable, and the changes failed to go as far as many wanted. For example, they did not include a mandatory correction period in which the putative defendant could correct the ADA violation.

If your business has become the subject of an ADA-related lawsuit, contact an experienced business litigator to better understand your legal options. When it comes to litigation, there is no substitute for an experienced business litigator who understands the needs and concerns of businesses. The first step in reducing unnecessary expenses is acknowledging them as they arise and taking appropriate measures to address them.

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