Bill would make it harder to file ADA accessibility lawsuits

A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would make it harder for individuals to file suits alleging businesses are not meeting the ADA’s accessibility standards. If enacted, H.R. 620 would require plaintiffs filing accessibility complaints under Title III of the ADA to first contact the business to provide them an opportunity to make repairs before any legal action is taken.

Proponents of the legislation say it will keep enterprising lawyers from recruiting handicapped people to seek out inaccessible establishments to sue.

If enacted, no plaintiff would be permitted to proceed with litigation unless the plaintiff has provided written notice to the owner or operator identifying the barrier. The operator then has 60 days to respond with an outline of improvements to be made. There must be “substantial progress” toward removing the barrier within 120 days. A plaintiff can sue only if those deadlines are not met.

Plaintiffs would have to identify the property’s address, the sections of the ADA alleged to have been violated, whether the potential plaintiff requested assistance in removing the barrier and whether the barrier to access was permanent or temporary.

The bill also calls for developing an alternative dispute resolution program to expedite accessibility claims.