On September 7 the House Judiciary Subcommittee approved H.R. 620, The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, by a vote of 15 to 9.
ICSC has been a driving force behind H.R. 620, which proposes narrowly targeted reforms to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and was introduced earlier this year by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX), Scott Peters (D-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Michael Conaway (R-TX), and Ami Bera (D-CA). The bipartisan legislation addresses an unintended consequence of the ADA, which has resulted in a national surge in "drive-by lawsuits" targeting shopping centers as well as hotels, restaurants and other kinds of local businesses. By creating a pause in litigation to allow businesses the opportunity to correct alleged barriers to access, H.R. 620 would help the business community increase access for their disabled customers and others, like customers with strollers, who have benefitted from improved access.
Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) referenced testimony given by David E. Weiss, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for DDR Corp., on behalf of ICSC in support of identical legislation in May 2016. While that measure was approved by the same body, no further action occurred.
Lawsuits associated with ADA violations have been on the rise in recent years. More lawsuits of this type were filed in federal court across the country in the first six months of this year than were filed in all of 2013. In many instances, a single plaintiff has filed dozens, even hundreds, of cases across a geographic area alleging violations. The legislation establishes a "notice and cure" provision that would create a temporary pause in litigation for up to 120 days before a lawsuit can be filed, allowing property owners the opportunity to correct identified barriers to access. If the property owner fails to take fix the violation, the plaintiff has all the rights and remedies he/she is entitled to under the ADA. The measure also mandates additional compliance safeguards, incentives to remedy alleged violations and additional resources to train professionals to provide guidance and remediation for potential ADA violations.
Though there is no clear timetable, the bill will next go before the full House for consideration. In the meantime: