Legislation aimed at curbing frivolous serial lawsuits made under the Americans with Disabilities Act is on Arizona business owners’ wish list for 2017, particularly after one group filed more than 1,700 lawsuits in Maricopa County alone from February to August last year. More than 1,000 such lawsuits were recently dismissed.
“Arizona is not going to tolerate serial litigators who try to shake down small hardworking businesses by exploiting the disability community,” Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement after the suits were dismissed.
Now, the Arizona House has introduced a bill designed to prevent such “drive-by” disability lawsuits.
House Bill 2504 would allow judges to fine those who are found to be filing these lawsuits primarily to make money.
“This bill discourages the thousands of ‘drive-by’ lawsuits aimed primarily at attorneys’ fees, while preserving the civil rights of those truly harmed by ADA violations,” Rep. Maria Syms, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “It’s a win for both the business community and the disability community.”
Another bill, Senate Bill 1198, would require written notice to the business before a lawsuit could be filed, giving the owner 60 to 90 days to rectify the violation. But disability activists have said they were concerned about aspects of that bill, so NFIB worked with them on the House bill.
“There is another way of achieving the goal of putting these drive-by lawsuits out of business while still having the disability community on board,” NFIB/Arizona State Director Farrell Quinlan told The Arizona Republic. “I wanted to help find it, because we have a large number of members who were caught up in the rash of lawsuits last summer.”