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SB 1186 Addressing ADA Lawsuits Expected to Move Quickly Through the Legislature

August 24, 2012

For the better part of a year, the League has been involved in a working group assembled to address issues surrounding the abuse of ADA lawsuits. SB 1186 (Steinberg), the vehicle for these solutions, will most likely be amended today and heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.


If it passes out of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, it will next be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee by Thursday before it is put up for a vote on the floor of the both the Senate and Assembly by Friday. 

While the League participated in the working group, the language in SB 1186 does not necessarily reflect the League’s suggestions or views.

SB 1186 attempts to limit the egregious examples of lawsuit abuses, while increasing education and compliance with ADA laws. A link to the bill’s summary can be found on the League’s website.

The bill contains provisions to:

  • Reduce statutory damages and litigation protections for defendants who correct violations;
  • Prevent stacking of multiple claims to increase statutory damages;
  • Ban demands for money;
  • Require specificity for demand letters and complaints;
  • Have the State Bar review demand letters and authorize attorney discipline for a violation in demand letters;
  • Allow mandatory evaluation conferences;
  • Require notice to property tenants of the building’s Certified Access Specialist program (CASp) status;
  • Have the California Commission of Disability Access receive copies of complaints in order post data on the top ten types of violations;
  • Require the Commission to make education a top priority;
  • Require local governments to disseminate information on disability access on business license applications or renewals; and
  • Require local governments to collect $1 on business licenses and renewals to support the CASp program.

The provision that most directly impacts local governments is the collection of a $1 fee for business licenses. The fee would be a 70/30 split, with 70 percent staying with the local jurisdiction and 30 percent being sent to the state. The purpose of the fee collection is to assist local jurisdictions in strengthening the CASp program. Jurisdictions would be required to send the state’s share of the money quarterly and report to the Legislature on how the money was spent annually. 

Finally, there is a requirement that cities give information, specified in statute, to business license applicants or requests for renewals. The collection of the $1 is considered a fee and not a tax. The bill is keyed as a two-thirds vote; because it contains an urgency clause.

While the League does not have a position on the bill yet, the overall policy and goal to reduce the incidences of lawsuit abuse and increase the education and compliance of businesses is laudable.

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