Home Los Angeles News Calvert introduces sensible ADA reform

Calvert introduces sensible ADA reform

Calvert introduces sensible ADA reform

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, has reintroduced the ACCESS Act, H.R. 241, which will provide needed balance to enforcement of disability access lawsuits.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, signed into law by George H.W. Bush, is a noble civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

To effectuate this objective, the ADA requires accessibility measures at any place of public accommodation. Business owners face the risk of litigation over violations of this requirement.

President Bush acknowledged worries the ADA would result in perpetual litigation upon signing the law, saying, “I know there may have been concerns that the ADA may be too vague or too costly, or may lead endlessly to litigation. But I want to reassure you right now that my administration and the United States Congress have carefully crafted this act.” However, contrary to the president’s reassurances, the ADA has in fact been commonly misused by professional plaintiffs who invoke the law in search of lucrative payouts  over the most trivial and fixable of violations.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform has documented several instances of such abuses.

“In Alameda, California an entire block of businesses became the target of ADA violation claims, including Lola’s Chicken Shack,” the ILR explained in an October 2022 article. “The plaintiffs sued Lola’s for a lack of accessible outdoor tables and a high front door threshold. The owner of Lola’s discovered that 31 other businesses near and within the same block of his restaurant were being sued using the same boilerplate claims.”

Calvert’s proposal would require a deliberate process before a lawsuit could be filed.  Specifically, the bill would  require that small business owners be provided with a written notice identifying the specific violation. The business would in turn provide a written plan for addressing the violations, and have time to cure the violation.

“Let’s protect disabled Americans without exposing our businesses on Main Street to shakedown lawsuits,” Calvert said in a statement.

Calvert has it right. A well-intended law like the ADA must not be abused to make some lawyers rich at the expense of small businesses.