Denham bill to help businesses combat frivolous lawsuits

Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) would give businesses an opportunity to correct complaints related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) before they are held liable.

The ADA Lawsuit Clarification Act, H.R. 1493, would give small businesses 120 days to respond to complaints filed under ADA before assuming civil or criminal liability in state or federal courts.

“Many small businesses are under attack, especially here in the Valley,” Denham said. “It’s a disgrace that the owners and operators of these local businesses are falling victim to predatory lawsuits, often leaving them with little opportunity to address or correct the issue.”

H.R. 1493 would require the Department of Justice to make compliance materials available to business owners in plain language in addition to establishing a grace period to comply with ADA compliance violations.

“I hope to alleviate the concern that business owners have when faced with these frivolous lawsuits,” Denham said. “This change in law will assure that they can increase access to the disabled instead of closing up shop because they’re threatened with costly litigation and legal fees.”

California state laws impose additional violations on businesses, placing the proof of compliance burden on business owners and requiring a minimum $4,000 fine for each ADA infraction. More than 40 percent of nationwide ADA lawsuits are filed in California.

Denham supported additional litigation reform bills that cleared the House last week: the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, H.R. 720; the Innocent Party Protection Act, H.R. 725; and the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, H.R. 985.