After suffering countless attacks on small businesses, the Redlands Chamber of Commerce reached out to Senator Bob Dutton for assistance and protection from unprincipled attorneys who have attempted to extort money from unsuspecting businesses demanding payoffs from $4500.00 to $8,500.00 for small ADA non compliant infractions. Thousands of dollars have been garnered in what appears to be a rather lucrative cottage industry for these dodgy characters and the “shakedowns” continue not only in Redlands but throughout the region and the State.
But Senator Dutton has heard the plea and took action. He asked the Redlands Chamber of Commerce to sponsor and introduced Senate Bill 783. With hard work this bipartisan legislation will be passed that will help the small business owners as well as Americans with Disabilities.
“The Chamber will continue to work closely with Senator Dutton and others to insure that this legislation moves forward and will protect all parties making it impossible for future attacks of this nature to occur”, said Chamber President Peter Lehmann. “We are incredibly grateful to the Senator for his quick action and will stand with him to the end as he moves this bill forward.”
In a move aimed at protecting small businesses throughout California and preserving the rights of disabled persons who choose to patronize those businesses, the emergency legislation intends to stop unscrupulous attorneys, using the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), from extorting money from businesses for what amounts to be minor violations. Several businesses throughout the Inland Empire, including 14 in the City of Redlands alone, have been sent a letter from an attorney representing a client claiming that person’s ADA rights have been violated, even though the business owner wasn’t aware of any potential problem. The letter further states that to avoid a costly lawsuit, the business owner must pay the attorney and his client between $5,000 and $8,500.
“This is nothing more than extortion of our businesses community,” Senator Dutton said. “It’s clear from reviewing some of the letters these businesses have received, that this particular attorney and his client are doing nothing more than driving around looking for a potential minor violation and then strong-arming the small businesses into paying them thousands of dollars to avoid a lawsuit.”
“SB 783 will allow the business owner a reasonable amount of time to fix the violation before a lawsuit can be filed,” Senator Dutton continued. “This will protect the small business owner and also the rights of the disabled community.”
Specifically, the owner of the property must be notified of the ADA violation before a lawsuit can be filed. The property owner will have 120 days to fix the violation. If the violation(s) is not fixed within the 120 days, a lawsuit may then be filed.
“No one wants to see the rights of anyone, particularly the disabled, violated,” Senator Dutton said. “SB 783 is a piece of common- sense legislation that continues to ensure the ADA is enforced without leading to this modern-day extortion of our business community.”
-Unfortunately on July 5 Judiciary Committee voted along party lines and did not move the bill forward. Senator Dutton has vowed to carry the bill to the next session.-