The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is important. Among other things, it makes sure that businesses of all kinds remain accessible to people with handicaps that might otherwise be excluded from services.
However, the ADA can be used in an abusive manner, if someone is so inclined. Shockingly, the vast majority of ADA lawsuits filed against small businesses in California are coming from a single source — someone who has filed a dozen ADA lawsuits in a day and thousands over the last few years.
How drive-by ADA lawsuits damage small businesses
These lawsuits, which leave business owners struggling to come up with money to settle the case or deal with fines and no opportunity to fix the problems first, are incredibly burdensome when they’re abused.
Many are started after a mere “drive-by” — which means that the plaintiff doesn’t actually suffer any discrimination or lack of access. They merely stop by long enough to look for something that can be used as the basis of their claim, knowing that businesses will be forced to settle if they want to avoid even-more expensive litigation.
San Jose business leaders have had enough — with good reason. Data shows that San Jose has more ADA lawsuits than any other area in the state, with businesses in non-English speaking areas and small, independent companies being the most frequent targets.
Currently, there is no “cure” period that allows a company to take remedial action in order to dismiss the claim against them. That forces a business to not only bring their buildings up to code but to also spend large amounts of money to settle such claims.
Consequently, business leaders are asking for legislation that will halt these serial filers and allow companies to fix any problem brought to their attention. It remains to be seen, however, what progress will be made.
If you’re being targeted by abusive ADA lawsuits, don’t try to handle the situation on your own. You can fight back — but you need experienced guidance throughout the process.