California Special Access for Disabled Persons Bill to Watch


Assembly Bill 1885 would require an allegedly aggrieved person to provide notice of an alleged violation of laws governing special access for disabled persons before filing a civil action against the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred (Responsible Party). It would required notice as specified to be provided to the Responsible Party, and the Responsible Party to respond within 30 days with a description of the improvements to be made or with a rebuttal response to the allegations. If the Responsible Party elected to fix the alleged violation, it would have 90 days to do so and, if the improvements were timely made, the Aggrieved Party would be barred from filing a civil action. Except, the new provisions would not apply to claims for recovery of special damages for an injury-in-fact, and a court or jury would be authorized to consider previous or pending actual damage awards received or prayed for by the alleged aggrieved party for the same or similar injury. On May 6, in committee, AB 1855 failed to pass but reconsideration was granted.

According to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary Synopsis, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, the author of AB 1885, believes that the “bill is necessary to provide relief to businesses who are having lawsuits filed against them because they are not in compliance with certain ADA regulations,” and “that thousands of small businesses across the state are having lawsuits filed against them for not being in compliance with the smallest of building standards established under the Americans with Disabilities Act and should have a 90-day window to correct any violations to come into compliance with the often times complex and confusing regulations before a lawsuit can be filed against them.” In contrast, it reports that opponents believe “that this bill singles out people with disabilities for unprecedented obstacles to the enforcement of civil rights, deprives them of a remedy for actual violations, and will deter, not encourage, compliance with disability discrimination law,” and “that the promise of the bill may be misleadingly unattainable because the requirements it would impose are inconsistent with federal disability discrimination law and therefore would not preclude the law suits from which businesses seek protection.”

It remains to be seen whether this bill will gain traction.

Additional Resources: California Legislative Information, AB 1885 (Feb. 19, 2014); Assembly Committee on Judiciary Synopsis (Bill Analysis) (May 6, 2014)