Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) and Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) introduced their first bills for the 2015-16 Legislative Session on Monday, which seek to curb frivolous lawsuits related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) so that businesses in the Central Valley and across California can keep their doors open while they work to comply with access laws.
Answering a call by embattled businesses in their districts, legislators representing areas across the Central Valley have signed onto the bills, including Senators Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte), Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), and Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), and Assemblymembers Bigelow (R-O’Neals), Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno), Henry Perea (D-Fresno), and Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield).
“Get-rich-quick lawsuit schemes that cause businesses to close, reduce hours, or lay off employees violate the spirit of ADA and should not be tolerated,” said Olsen. “AB 54 is a commonsense solution that will protect small businesses and their employees, while still requiring businesses to comply with access laws.”
Added Assemblymember Gray: “These well-intentioned measures are meant to give everyone equal access, but they’ve been abused by a select group who shakedown our local businesses for a quick buck. People have lost their jobs, and businesses have shutdown, because the law has a loophole that is being exploited.”
Construction-related accessibility standards change on a regular basis, making it difficult for small businesses to maintain compliance. To solve this problem, AB 54 would provide businesses an opportunity to cure ADA violations within 60 days, if construction-related accessibility standards related to the specified violation have changed within three years.
Assemblymember Gray’s measure, AB 52, would significantly reduce or eliminate statutory damages if a small business corrects its violations within 180 days.
Kim Stone, President of Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC) said, “Well-intentioned businesses in California need relief from what can be extortionate lawsuits over technical or minor ADA violations. This bill will reduce lawsuits and will improve access – it’s a win-win.”
AB 54 and AB 52 were introduced on Dec. 1, 2014 and are awaiting assignment to their first respective policy committees.
Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen represents the 12th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes portions of Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
Assemblymember Adam C. Gray represents the 21st Assembly District which includes all of Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.