Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce members were provided a forum to discuss H.R. 620, the ADA Education and Reform Act. This legislation would close the loophole in the federal law that has unintentionally helped produce “drive-by” ADA Title III lawsuits while adding safeguards that incentivize the remedy of alleged violations – without taking away the right to pursue “bad actors” who ignore compliance.

This is a “notice and cure” bill that requires a plaintiff to give specific notice to the property owner about the alleged violations so they know what they are looking for in terms of a barrier.  The legislation also allows property owners up to 120 days to fix the alleged ADA violation before the clock starts running on attorney fees. Chamber members agreed that this piece of legislation is a good first step.  “Small businesses are fragile.  Starting with a conversation, instead of a lawsuit is promising,” stated Kirk Rossberg, owner of Torrance Bakery.

 

According to news reports, the number of ADA lawsuits filed in federal court countines to rise, up 150% since 2013.  These figures don’t take into account the vast number of potential suits, which are essentially settled before ever being filed.  California still leads the country with the largest number of ADA Title III lawsuits (40%) but only 12% of the nation’s disabled population lives in the state.

 

Chamber members taking part in the forum included Philip de Souza, Aurora Enterprises; Dean Reuter, Reuter & Reuter; Susanne Alexander, Lisa’s Bon Appetit; Kirk Rossberg, Torrance Bakery; Keith Shiosaki, Shin Sen Gumi; Merrill Failla, The San Franciscan; John Schoen, Advertising and Marketing Network and Larry Halvorsen, Express Employment Services.

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