San Diego Business Litigation Defense Lawyers

The number of lawsuits against public businesses and commercial property arising out of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA is rapidly rising.  The experienced general business counsel and litigation attorneys at the Watkins Firm work with our clients to ensure ADA compliance in order to prevent ADA lawsuits from developing, and to defend our clients in ADA related hearings and litigation when they arise.

These lawsuits and actions are brought by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), advocacy groups, and disabled persons themselves in an effort to enforce compliance with ADA.  In many cases complaints may be justified, and the Watkins Firm works to mitigate the damages and negotiate a solution the resolves the matter while ensuring present and future compliance with ADA laws and regulations.

Unfortunately, there is a rising tide of “drive-by lawsuits” involving plaintiffs who have pursued action against dozens and sometimes hundreds of other companies, and other less scrupulous individuals who may view ADA compliance as a path to easy money.  The ADA also allows the Court to award attorney’s fees for the prevailing party, and this can be a primary motivation to bring ADA actions.

Any disabled person who encounters a building condition that is not in full compliance with the accessibility requirements of the ADA or the California Building Code (CBC) may file a lawsuit and receive a minimum of $4,000 in statutory damages plus attorney’s fees.

ADA Violations and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act

ADA litigation is time consuming and expensive.  It creates contingent liabilities that limit a corporation’s options while distracting managers and owners from the principal focus of their business.  Here in California, a violation of ADA laws is also a violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act.  Violations under the Unruh Civil Rights Act can include a penalty of $4,000 per accessibility violation.  These violations can be “stacked” based upon multiple visits or experiences quickly escalating the potential liability to a business.

This law provides protection from discrimination by all business establishments in California, including housing and public accommodations, because of:

  • Age – Ancestry
  • Color – Disability
  • Medical Condition (cancer and genetic characteristics) – Genetic Information
  • Marital Status   – National Origin
  • Race – Citizenship
  • Religion – Primary Language
  • Sexual Orientation – Immigration Status
  • Sex (which includes pregnancy, childbirth, medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, gender, gender identity and gender expression)

ADA litigation can be based on a number of scenarios including:

ADA Title I Claims

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including State and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations.

The Watkins Firm’s extensive employment litigation experience and track record of success are important to those who face ADA Title I claims.

ADA Title III Claims

“No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to) or operated a place of public accommodation.” 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a).

Generally speaking, this code section applies to any business that is open to the public.  Title III lawsuits increased by 8% in 2015 over 2014 numbers.

[ADA Title II addresses “public entities” such as State and Local Governments]

Contact Experienced ADA Litigation Attorneys Based in San Diego

If you are concerned about an ADA related action, hearing or lawsuit we invite you to contact us, or call 858-535-1511 for a complimentary and substantive consultation.  You will learn about our unique approach to litigation, and the important protections of the attorney-client privilege.  We will develop strategies to resolve an ADA dispute in the shortest possible timeframe and in a cost effective manner.