Bill aims to improve enforcement, curb growing national “cash for compliance” lawsuit epidemic

The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) announced support for the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 620, introduced today 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 legislation addresses an unintended consequence of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which has resulted in a national surge in “drive-by lawsuits”, by creating a pause in litigation to allow businesses the opportunity to correct alleged barriers to access.

“ICSC thanks the Congressional members who introduced this bill for their commitment to ensuring that the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act continues to protect disabled people from discrimination in their everyday life—from employment to accessing public places,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “The retail real estate industry is fully committed to the collective goals of more accessibility and ensuring full compliance with this important law.”

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 past six months 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. 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. 

“Business owners shouldn’t have to choose between a costly legal fight or paying out thousands of dollars for minor, unintended or easily correctable issues,” said Betsy Laird, senior vice president of Global Public Policy for ICSC. “Congress needs to act this year to improve the ADA so resources are directed to the mission of the ADA rather than to certain plaintiffs’ lawyers.”