CALIFORNIA ADA LAW REVISED CREATING DISCIPLINARY CONSEQUENCES ON LAWYERS MAKING FRIVILOUS DEMANDS

Senate Bill No. 1186, makes significant changes to the law, some of which impose State Bar disciplinary consequences on lawyers. The bill contains an urgency clause, which means it was effective immediately upon enactment Sept. 19, 2012, but some of its provisions don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013. The bill includes the following provisions, all of which govern construction-related disability access claims:

  • A general prohibition against sending a demand letter that includes a request or demand for money or an offer or agreement to accept money, effective immediately
  • A revision to the existing mandatory written advisory that must be provided with a demand letter or complaint, effective immediately
  • A requirement that a lawyer send a copy of a demand letter to the State Bar and the California Commission on Disability Access, effective Jan. 1, 2013
  • A requirement that a demand letter sent by a lawyer include the lawyer’s State Bar license number, effective Jan. 1, 2013
  • A requirement that a lawyer send a copy of a complaint to the California Commission on Disability Access, effective Jan. 1, 2013
  • A requirement that demand letters and complaints contain plain language sufficient for a recipient business or property owner to determine the basis of alleged violations, including: specific identification of each access barrier encountered; the date of the incident; and a description of how each barrier interfered with full and equal access, effective Jan. 1, 2013
  • A requirement that a complaint be verified by the plaintiff, effective Jan. 1, 2013. A complaint filed without verification is subject to a motion to strike
  • A reduction of statutory damages if specified conditions apply, effective immediately
  • The establishment of procedures for a mandatory evaluation conference, effective as to claims filed on or after Jan. 1, 2013

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