PVA, Cal-Diego Chapter recognizes the need for people with disabilities to be actively involved in federal, state, and local legislation that impacts our vital interests. PVA, Cal-Diego Chapter is proactive at all levels of government to protect the rights and benefits of our members as well as those of all citizens with disabilities. For example, our chapter members have been involved with the local transit, building, and planning departments of San Diego to ensure that our city and county are accessible to all disabled persons.
114th Congress: Testimony
Paralyzed Veterans of America Annual Legislative Presentation before the Joint Hearing of the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs, May 20, 2015 Presented by Al Kovach, Jr., National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
2015 Advocacy/Legislation Point Papers
CA ADA Drive-By Lawsuits Addressed
In late September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed state Senate Bill 1186, to put restrictions on remedies available under Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits in California. California had previously passed a state law that made every ADA violation worth $4000, plus attorney’s fees, to a complainant. Since then, more “drive-by” lawsuits have happened in California than any other state – more than 40% of all ADA lawsuits nationally. It is important to note that this law addresses only the provisions of the state law and does not affect the ADA or the ability to file a federal lawsuit in any manner.
The new law prohibits pre-litigation “demand for money” letters, and requires that any intent to sue letter must be sent at least 30 days prior to filing a lawsuit and must include the specific access problems and date of violation, so that business owners will know why they are being sued.
SB 1186 will reduce financial damages from $4,000 per violation to $1,000 for defendants whose properties were inspected by a certified access specialist or approved by building officials – as long as fixes to bring the property into full compliance are made within 60 days. SB 1186 will also limit the ability of a plaintiff to file multiple claims for a single violation, e.g., repeated visits to a business with a too-narrow doorway.
This new law will resolve many of the problems with drive-by lawsuits in California by addressing the state law that assigned financial damages to ADA violations. The proposed federal law, the ADA Notification Act (H.R. 881) proposes that a plaintiff must permit a potential defendant with 90-120 days to correct a Title III ADA violation before filing a lawsuit. PVA opposes H.R. 881.