The Indian Business Owner TIBO Magazine - Volume 001 - Page 12

How to Protect Your Business from an Accessibility-Related Lawsuit I’m often asked by clients what they can do to prevent being sued for ADA/Accessibility violations at their business and I tell them the all same thing – the only way to be safe from a lawsuit is to have your property 100% compliant with all current accessibility standards. Unfortunately, full compliance is not reasonable for the majority of businesses due to physical and financi al constraints. So what is the next-best option for protecting your business? Find out the risk exposure for an accessibility lawsuit at your business and take advantage of the protections afforded under current law. Below is an overview of the three most pertinent laws that are currently on the books in California as well as a brief summary of the protections/benefits provided under each law. SB 1608 - 2008 Senate Bill 1608 created the Certified Access Specialist program. Certified Access Specialist, or CASp, is a certification given by the Division of the State Architect only to those who are experienced, trained, and tested individuals who can inspect buildings and sites for compliance with applicable state and federal construction-related accessibility standards. A CASp is the only certification in the State of California that is recognized as being experts accessibility and a CASp inspection is the only type of inspection that triggers protections from accessibility lawsuits under state law. Under SB 1608 a property inspected by a CASp prior to being served with a lawsuit may be eligible for the following benefits/protections: • 90 Day court stay • Early evaluation conference with a judge or clerk 10 |TIBO Magazine - Fall 2016 SB 1186 - 2012 Senate Bill 1186 allows for reduction in damages, eliminated stacking of claims, and eliminated demand-for-money letters (extortion letters). Under SB 1186 a business may be eligible for the following benefits/protections: • Reduced statutory damages from $4,000. occurrence to $1,000/occurrence if the property has been inspected by a CASp prior to being served with a complaint, all violations alleged in the complaint are corrected within 60 days of receipt of the complaint • Reduced statutory damages from $4,000/ occurrence to $2,000/occurrence if the business is a small business (defined as having 25 or fewer employees and no more than $3.5 million in gross receipts), and all alleged violations are corrected within 30 days of being served with the complaint SB 629 – 2016 Senate Bill 269 created a 120 day window to allow businesses to correct violations prior to being liable for minimum statutory damages but only for business that meet certain criteria. Under SB 629 a business is not responsible for any statutory damages if the following requirements are met: • Business is a small business (employed 50 or fewer employees on average over the past 3 years) • Property has been inspected by a CASp (specifically the area of alleged violation) and the inspection was performed PRIOR to the complaint being filed (note “filed” – not served) • The defendant has corrected all alleged violations within 120 days of the date of the CASp