The latest: Senate Bill  855 (hearing 3 May 2005)

 


The fifth of five clear opportunities to improve California's accessibility lawsuit crisis . . .

. . . and they wouldn't even negotiate!

 

Did you know California legislators had 5 different opportunities to curb the abuse of ADA/accessibility lawsuits and declined to do anything about it? 

The opportunities were:

  1. AB 1040 (Dutra) 2001
  2. AB 209 (Leslie) 2003
  3. SB 69 (Oller) 2004
  4. SB 855 (Poochigian) 2005 (as introduced and amended)
  5. SB 855 (Poochigian) 2005 (as reduced to "Intent Language")

Perhaps the most egregious of these is the most recent one-- in which on 3 May 2005, California's Senate Judiciary Committee would not even vote for the following "Intent Language":

  • The "Intent Language": "It is the intent of the legislature to address concerns that have arisen regarding lawsuits brought under the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act and California's Unruh Civil Rights Act and Disabled Persons' Act that do not achieve the goals of compliance with these statutes."

Given that the legislators were informed that there have now been more than 12,000 disabled accessibility lawsuits filed in California in just the past few years, many of which did nothing to improve accessibility and only profited a select group of "professional plaintiffs" and the lawyers who represent them, how could our legislators refuse to take even this very minor (and almost symbolic) step to at least begin evaluating how these laws are being abused?  Watch the videos below to see for yourself!

The fact that the Legislators of California's Senate Judiciary Committee would not even agree to the very general "intent language" above-- and because we know they have been informed that businesses are closing, jobs are being lost, and bankruptcies filed, because of these lawsuits-- can only mean that they are happy with the current system of "private enforcement" accessibility laws in California, and must think it is working well.  But is it?

  • There have been over 12,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits in California to date.   Despite this, only about 2% of the commercial property open to the public meets applicable access standards.  We use inspectors for building codes, fire codes, health and safety and labor codes, but for some reason, a small group of legislators think it is better to use a system of private lawyers, "professional plaintiffs" and judges (few of whom have any construction experience) to create access for people with disabilities.  Do they really feel that this system is efficiently bringing about access for people with disabilities, or have they just received too much money from trial lawyers (see Are Votes for Sale?)?

If it has taken 15 years and 12,000 lawsuits just to achieve 2% compliance, it will take another 195 years to reach 100% compliance, and that does not include new buildings, which though approved by building inspectors, are often immediately subject to ADA/accessibility lawsuits.  Why do our legislators ask people with disabilities-- whose lives are already difficult enough-- to struggle with an inefficient system of lawsuits to achieve accessibility, when there are so many better ways?  To see some of the other alternatives, you may wish to visit www.ADAreform.com.


  • See how one well-known legislator-- who just minutes earlier indicated an inclination to vote for the "intent language" above-- quickly changed her mind and voted against it.  [click symbol at right to view]

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  • Now see what the Senator in the preceding clip claimed to be offended by-- click the symbol to the right to see Senator Poochigian's entire closing remark.  Given the more than 12,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits in California, we have to assume that there was something terribly offensive here-- enough to be more important than the many businesses throughout California which have been sued (and/or closed).  We couldn't find it-- can you?

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  • The video clip to the right shows that just a few minutes earlier, she indicated that she was thinking about voting in favor of the "intent language."  With this bill's defeat, California can expect at least one more year of ADA/accessibility lawsuits (as many as 2,500 or more at the rate they're currently being filed).  Even if only a small fraction of the abuse that's been reported was true (see www.ADAabuse.com), would such a cavalier attitude be justified?

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Document
View the bill
View the vote
View the press release
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View Channel 3 News Clip
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Channel 13 News Clip
Document
Dan Walters' article in the Sacramento Bee

The Press Conference

(which preceded the hearings, shown further down this page)

 

To understand more about why this measure is needed, view video clips of the press conference which preceded the hearings.


Senator Poochigian's opening remarks


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1st Witness


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2nd Witness


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3rd Witness


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4th Witness


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5th Witness


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6th Witness


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7th Witness


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8th Witness


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9th Witness


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10th Witness


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Concluding remarks of Senator Poochigian including Question and Answer session with the media


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The Hearing

 

Learn more about SB 855-- view the testimony which was presented to the legislators:


Hearings: Opening statement by Senator Chuck Poochigian
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Testimony by one hapless buisness owner who has made every effort to comply with accessibility standards, and is still being sued!
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One witness with disabilities tells of disappointment with California's "private enforcement" system, which allows private plaintiffs to profit from filing discrimination lawsuits, departs from the intent of the ADA.
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View numerous witnesses in support of the measure, including representatives of many trade and industry groups whose members have been hard-hit by these lawsuits.


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Clip 2 of 2
 

Witnesses in Opposition


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Senator Poochigian's Closing Remarks
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Senate Debate and Vote
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