Jonathan Judge, new partner of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya & Romo brought one of his partners, Michael Rubino to give us an ADA presentation. George W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disability Act in 1990. It had good intentions but has turned into a litigation industry mostly for unethical attorneys and people. There have been more than 20,000 ADA lawsuits filed in the United States since 2011 and about half of all lawsuits mentioned are filed in California. California’s accessibility standards are more demanding than the federal rules and all ADA laws provide that owners and leases are liable equally.
ADA makes it illegal for a business to discriminate against disabled persons. This is usually access related. It provides set minimum standards for access. This may also include websites without sight impaired features. All ADA laws allow for private enforcement actions by individuals as well as advocacy organizations.
The three things that must be proven: 1) the person is disabled; 2) the business is a place of public accommodations such as office buildings, hotels, restaurants, banks and retail stores; 3) the person was denied full and equal treatment because of his disability. Cost of defense is extremely high including damages and if you lose just one count you must pay the other side’s attorney fees. The best advice is to settle early.
Hire a CAS (Certified Access Specialist) who will review the property and check ADA compliance. They will provide you with an inspection report which potentially is a defense to any ADA claim for work completed within three months of the inspection.
Congratulations Jonathan on your partnership!