(Note: this information has appeared in the weekly in the past. We are re-running because this is a huge accomplishment in terms of ADA reform, but also because there is some required lease language that you need to know about).

California has 40 percent of the nation’s ADA lawsuits but only 12 percent of the country’s disabled population.  So last year Governor Brown signed SB 1186 (Steinberg/Dutton), which will curb lawsuit abuse regarding the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) while promoting increased compliance with disabled accessibility building codes.

The effort 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 measure is hailed as the most comprehensive and significant reform to California’s ADA Law. It passed the Legislature by a two-thirds vote, garnering support from both parties.

Among other things, this measure: prohibits pre-litigation “demands for money” by attorneys; puts into place new provisions to prevent “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:

1. Reduced statutory damages and litigation protections for defendants who correct violations

2. New provisions to prevent stacking of multiple claims to increase statutory damages

3. Ban on demands for money and new rules for demand letters

4. New pleading with specificity requirement for demand letters and complaints

5. State Bar review of demand letters; violation of demand letter and demand for money provisions would be grounds for attorney discipline

6. Mandatory evaluation conference at option of either defendant of plaintiff

7. Mandatory notice to property tenant of CASp status of the property

8. California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) to receive copies of complaints and demand letters and tabulate data on top ten types of violations alleged

9. CCDA to promote and facilitate accessibility compliance

10. Required information regarding disability access compliance to businesses upon renewal of business license

11. New add-on fee of $1 to business license fee to strengthen CASp program and develop educational and training resources at state and local level to promote compliance

This bill could not have passed were it not for efforts from many of you 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!

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