Monday Sep 10 2012
Editor's View: ADA compliance lawsuits making waves in Folsom, El Dorado CountyBy: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
With the Telegraph’s continuing coverage of Americans with Disabilities Act non-compliance lawsuits filed against area businesses, the issue is once again coming into the spotlight. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, offered a bill late last year as a compromise. He hopes it will gain traction in the next congressional cycle. Dubbed House Resolution 3356, the bill would allow business owners time to comply before a suit can be filed. Even Sen. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, is taking up the issue of what many call abuse of the law. Some critics say the law has been around for more than 20 years and businesses should have no excuse for non-compliance. Others say while the core of the law may have been in place that long, many of the adjustments and revisions to the law are only months old and compliance standards regularly change, leaving business owners confused. A door handle a quarter-of-an-inch too high? A bathroom stall a quarter-of-an-inch too narrow? How about the incline of a wheelchair ramp being one to two degrees too steep? These are all non-compliance issues raising eyebrows on both sides of the argument. Stories of city governments constantly altering curb designs to comply with changing laws is one example. Swimming pools at hotels in California, if they didn’t have certain features, were suddenly going to be out of compliance if they didn’t re-design and retrofit their facilities. That suddenly raised the question of community pools and differing standards for each. Another bill, at the state level, is Senate Bill 1186 which “goes a long way to enforce compliance and eliminate potentially 20 percent of frivolous lawsuits,” according to Tom Scott, with California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (CALA). According to the bill, attorneys who violate the requirements of the bill be subject to “disciplinary action.” It also requires there be a “construction-related accessibility violation” and bans pre-litigation “demand for money” letters and creates rules for demand letters and complaints. According to Scott, the bill is a bipartisan measure just waiting for a signature from the governor. It has already cleared the legislature. According to Scott, “California has approximately 42 percent of all ADA lawsuits in the U.S., but only 12 percent of the nation’s population.” Scott said the bill will stop “shakedown” lawsuits and enforce compliance, something sought by both sides of the aisle. Reach Don Chaddock at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @anewsguy.