By Jim Walsh | East Valley Tribune
The owner of a struggling east Mesa strip mall wishes he had the second chance to correct a technical Americans with Disabilities Act violation, as envisioned in a bill filed by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.
Flake’s bill includes a “notice and cure provision,” which would have given Keith, 51, or any other business owner, up to 120 days to correct an ADA violation.
But two advocates for the disabled aren’t necessarily sold on Flake’s bill and were divided on its merits, with one saying businesses should already know about a civil rights law passed 26 years ago. A similar bill filed in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015 by another Republican congressman did not succeed.
“Advocates for the disabled may fear that the type of legislation proposed by Sen. Flake will go beyond just ending abusive ADA lawsuits and create an incentive for property owners to ignore ADA requirements until they receive notice. However, many property owners sued by AID took reasonable steps to comply with the ADA and were not aware that their properties were not in compliance. Like the owner in this article, many owner’s properties substantially comply with the ADA and the lawsuit filed against them was based on a very technical violation of the ADA, sometimes a matter of a sign being 3-4 inches too high. Therefore, for most property owners, the issue is not about compliance with the ADA, but rather abuse of the judicial system.
“At least temporarily, many property owners can enjoy some relief from the mass litigation. In addition to the Court granting the AG’s motion to consolidate over 1100 lawsuits filed by AID against property owners, the court also has ordered that all activity in those cases be stayed and that AID is prohibited from filing any new lawsuits against property owners until the court resolves the AG’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits. The AG plans on filing its motion to dismiss the lawsuits later this month.
“Property owners who have been served with notices or lawsuits regarding ADA issues contact an attorney to discuss their options and determine whether their case is part of the AG’s lawsuit. Other property owners who have not been sued should continue to evaluate their properties to ensure that they comply with the ADA.”
~ Adam Martinez